A TV star couple have been told to remove a garden shed, which they built believing it fell within the permitted development rights for their home.
Former Made in Chelsea and BBC Watchdog presenter Spencer Matthews and his Dancing With the Stars wife Vogue Williams recently installed a shed on their £7million Jersey property believing it did not require planning permission.
However, the celebrity couple may now may be forced to demolish the shed on a technicality after residents complained that the structure did not have permission and should be removed. Planning inspectors agreed with the complainants that it did not fall within the "domestic curtilage" of the house and therefore permitted development rights do not apply.
Believed shed qualified under 'domestic curtilage'
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Matthews purchased the £7million Jersey estate alongside his wife Vogue Williams in December 2021. After living in the home for a couple of years, they decided to build the shed to store tools and equipment needed to tend to their land.
The shed, which was built beside an agricultural building, measures 18ft by 15ft with electricity and water connections from the main house's supply.
Matthews mistakenly assumed that obtaining consent for the shed was unnecessary, as he believed it still fell within the bounds of the "domestic curtilage". If it was deemed to be within these bounds then the shed would have fallen under permitted development rights and would not have required planning permission.
However, Matthews was incorrect as to qualify the shed must have been either clearly attached to the house or serving the purpose of the house in some way under the permitted development rules for sheds in Jersey.Similar rules apply for building sheds in Britain too.
What is the law on 'domestic curtilage'?
The Jersey government website states that "'domestic curtilage’ is the area of land on which a dwelling house / flat sits and includes the residential land immediately around the building, which serves the building in some defined and meaningful way. It doesn’t include a field or other open land next to a house, even if it’s in the same ownership."
UK law has a similar definition of "curtilage” but perhaps is less specific. It is defined as "land which forms part and parcel with the house. Usually it is the area of land within which the house sits, or to which it is attached, such as the garden, but for some houses, especially in the case of properties with large grounds, it may be a smaller area."
Forced to seek retrospective planning permission
Authorities in Jersey determined that the tool shed needed planning permission despite being built within Matthews and Williams' 16-acre estate.
This has meant the pair must now submit a retrospective planning application for the structure, if they wish to keep it.
In a formal letter addressed to the council, their planning agent, Michael Stein from MS Planning, said: "This application is for a small agricultural tool shed which has already been erected and is needed to store equipment that is used to maintain circa 40 vergees of land that the applicant owns.
"The field margins require a certain amount of management by the owner to keep it in good condition, and which helps to maintain the landscape character of this part of the countryside for the benefit of the immediate neighbours and the wider public."
The letter claims that most of the 13 fields on the estate are used for growing hay and sileage for the use of a local equestrian business.
The letter added: "The amount of maintenance involved presently requires only this small shed which was erected in this location because there are no other buildings that have the capacity for storing the agricultural tools and equipment needed.
"Tucked close to the northern boundary of the field and built with appropriate materials and colours that fit this countryside context, the proposal will sit comfortably and will not be readily visible from any public vantage points."
Neighbour voices her objection to TV stars' shed
This did not appease local residents who complained and urged the Government of Jersey to reject the retrospective planning permission.
Lyn Plaster, who lives nearby, said the shed should not be granted permission as it falls within a designated Protected Coastal and Conservation Area.
Plaster's complaint also accuses Stein of providing false information, claiming that he was incorrect in stating that the shed is not "clearly visible" to neighbours when in fact, she believes, the shed can be seen from neighbouring National Trust land.
In addition, Plaster argued that the shed would have required planning permission, even if it had been constructed within the boundaries of the "domestic curtilage" of the house. According to her, the shed exceeded the permissible size limits, as it covered an area exceeding 41 square meters when considering its overhanging roof.
Plaster wrote in a letter to the planning office: "We understand that storage may be required by the applicant, however, this should be located within the domestic curtilage or an appropriate place within the agricultural land subject, of course, to appropriate planning permissions.
"We would therefore request that the permission be refused, and the applicant be required to restore the field to its former condition."
Matthews will now wait to see if his planning permission is refused after the Government of Jersey, which is the planning authority for the island, inspected the shed on May 4. If it fails to receive retrospective planning permission it is likely to be subject to enforcement action to remove the structure.
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News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals. Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.