Thursday, 16 April 2009

When is a fence an offence?

We referred previously to the Complaints Board hearing v Planning and the timber fence built at “Saval” a little cottage in Trinity and that Decision is still awaited here

But in the meantime there are many issues that need to be raised – not least that of the different standards that seem to apply to Senator Freddie Cohen and his property in St John which we have previously discussed on this site here

For simple clarity we have a short video clip here to show “Saval” which is a BLI (Building of Local Interest) and Freddie’s House in St John which is a SSI ( a site of Special Interest). Freddie’s house is not only much larger – it is also much more important on the Register as an SSI. So any alterations on Freddie’s house need extra special planning controls and limitations……

Freddie has already complained that he is furious with us and that by showing his house on our blog we have put his family in danger! Obviously the Minister for Planning values his privacy and the timber fence built on top of the roadside wall with its Security Group warnings make that very clear BUT we can find no evidence that planning permission was ever granted for the fence AND that is the very same issue which the “Saval” dispute arises from.

In fact, according to the “controversial” permission given to Freddie to construct an entirely new house for his mother in his garden (in October 2008) the timber fence has to be removed under the pretext of improved vehicle sight lines – but there is certainly no hint that the fence was illegally built in the first place or that Freddie might have broken the planning laws of Jersey. Of course, we simply don’t know whether the laws have been broken or not but Freddie has owned the particularly fine SSI property since 1986 at least………

……and there is no exemption for BLI and SSI buildings when it comes to alterations - even building a humble fence to afford privacy to the occupiers – formal planning permissions must be obtained first and that is just what “Saval” is all about.
The occupiers of “Saval” built their fence in order to achieve privacy in their garden and security for their pet dog and of course those reasons are supported under the Convention of Human Rights and Freddie gave a long written answer as Planning Minister in April 2007 to Senator Ben Shenton to explain the importance of Human Rights obligations and listed buildings and what might be done to them - so neither he nor his department can claim to be ignorant on the matter.

Yet extraordinarily, at the Review Board hearing ( which we heard but were not allowed to video record) Roy Webster the Senior Planning Officer claimed that in over 20 years with the department he had never heard of anybody even raising Human Rights as a challenge to a planning decision and whilst he said that the department always took account of Human Rights issues he clearly did not have a clue that Privacy was such an important issue and neither he nor the planning committee had even previously entered the garden of “Saval” to get to know the property!
He did though explain that the general public right to be able to see and enjoy BLI and SSI buildings was one of the specific reasons why the erection of fences was so strictly controlled – so that loss of privacy for the occupiers was necessary in the interests of the public right to gaze.
So what does that say about Freddie’s mansion and his fence and the public right to see his house and our right to blog its image?

Also raised was the question of whether or not it was appropriate for the Constable or Deputies of a Parish to sit on planning committees when own parish sites were being considered and the role of the conflicted or not conflicted Deputy Ann Pryke of Trinity (and Deputy Planning Minister) was a joy to hear (in her absence) as explained from the lips of Constable “I know how to be impartial” Hanning of St Saviour……….

But, of course, there were many many issues of great importance raised at this insignificant hearing and it is ever more frightening to know just how the government and administration of Jersey carries on behind the scenes. Thank heavens for the likes of Deputy Bob Hill who is constantly niggling away to expose the unfairness but where are the other 50 or so elected representatives or concerned lawyers or even journalists who will give him the support that he deserves?

And who will have the nerve to challenge Freddie Cohen and ask when his fence was approved by his own department and why his family’s rural privacy is so important above others with equal needs?

For more pictures of Saval Cottage please see

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.


Anonymous said...

"BUT we can find no evidence that planning permission was ever granted for the fence"

So contact planning and lodge a formal complaint. If permission was required Cohen will have to remove the fence and reapply, at which point the public can lodge objections.

Building Materials Supplies said...

You need to be careful posting pictures of peoples property on the internet.

In this instance showing the fence and the building could cause possible security issues.

Where would you stand if something happened to the property or owner?

Steve the Builder said...

Thanks for sharing