White Stuff founder ordered to tear down skate park at Devon homeSeptember 11, 2019
Millionaire founder of the White Stuff fashion brand is ordered to tear down two-storey double garage, skate park and tennis court he built in beauty spot without permission
- Sean Thomas built two-storey car garage, a skate park and tennis courts at home
- But he may have to tear them down after failing to apply for planning permission
- He and wife submitted retrospective application after a neighbour complained
- But authority found development in exclusive South Hams, Devon was ‘intrusive’
A millionaire businessman has been ordered to tear down a skate park and tennis court at his beauty spot mansion after building them without permission.
Sean Thomas, founder of the White Stuff fashion brand, also built a two-storey double garage on farmland behind his house in affluent area of South Hams, Devon.
But the land must now been returned to its former state after another resident in the exclusive neighbourhood informed the local authority of the unlawful development.
The house at Gerston Point was itself built after a controversial planning application was submitted by Mr Thomas in 2011.
He proposed building the new dwelling on the site of a bungalow formerly owned by the environmentalist Tony Soper, co-founder of the BBC’s Natural History Unit.
White Stuff founder Sean Thomas has been ordered to tear down a two-storey double garage, a skate park and a tennis court (outlined in red) at his beauty spot mansion
Mr Thomas and his wife later acquired an adjoining strip of agricultural land (shown before construction began, behind the house) in 2016 to build the tennis court, skate park and garage
Pictured here is the view of the tennis court looking towards the two-storey double garage with solar panelling
The development was finally approved in 2012 after some scaling back of the original plans.
Mr Thomas and his wife later acquired an adjoining strip of agricultural land to build a tennis court, skate park and garage, which was finished in 2016.
However the site is in the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and alongside the Salcombe to Kingsbridge Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest.
They submitted a retrospective application for change of use the land with carport and storage building after a complaint to the council from a nearby resident.
Now planners have rejected the application and Mr Thomas and his wife are to be told that the land must be returned to its former condition.
Although the application was for a ‘car port and storage’ only, the planners say he will also have to remove the the tennis court and skate ramp.
Sean Thomas (left) built the home in 2012, after the demolition of a bungalow formerly owned by the environmentalist Tony Soper (right), co-founder of the BBC’s Natural History Unit
An image taken from council documents shows the double garage as viewed on the approach to the home
Now planners have rejected the application and Mr Thomas and his wife are to be told that the land must be returned to its former condition
The site is in the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and alongside the Salcombe to Kingsbridge Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest
The couple now have eight weeks to appeal against the decision by South Hams District Council.
The planning decision says that the development ‘represents an unwelcome and incongruous intrusion into an undeveloped countryside location’.
South Hams councillor Nicky Hopwood said: ‘If the owners of the property do submit an appeal, they will be doing so at their own expense.’
Stopher Design Partnership, the Thomas’s agent confirmed that the property is still owned by Mr Thomas.
The South Hams Society welcomed the decision, saying: ‘The refusal and referral for enforcement action is absolutely the right decision.
‘This should serve as a stark reminder that no one is above the law.’
Cllr Judy Pearce, leader of South Hams District Council, who represents West Alvington, said: ‘What they’ve done isn’t acceptable.
‘Everybody has to respect planning policy.’
White Stuff’s website boasts: ‘We spend a lot of time figuring out how to do minimal damage to the world around us…. We’re investing time and money to help us work in environmentally friendly ways.’
On its website, the fashion brand White Stuff boasts that it spends ‘a lot of time figuring out how to do minimal damage to the world around us’ (stock image)
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