The millionaire founder of the White Stuff brand has sparked fury after refusing to tear down a development built at his home without permission - including a skate park, writes Tom Bevan.

Sean Thomas built a two-storey double garage and tennis court on farmland behind his house at Gerston Point in the South Hams, Devon.

The site is in the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and alongside the Salcombe to Kingsbridge Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Planners rejected a retrospective application for change of use of the land in September last year after a complaint to the council from a resident.

Mr Thomas and his wife were told that the land must be returned to its former condition.

But six months on no remedial work has yet been carried out and no enforcement notice has been issued.

Both South Hams Council and Mr Thomas say discussions are ongoing.

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But the lack of action has prompted the South Hams Society to launch a blistering attack on the council and accused it of "dragging its heels".

The conservation charity said it feared eroding trust in the planning process.

South Hams District council said it was talking to Mr Thomas "to try and resolve the issue".

After the rejection, the council ordered its enforcement team to start legal action to return the land at the luxury riverside home near Salcombe, Devon, to its original condition.

South Hams District Council said: "At this moment in time we haven't issued an enforcement notice.

"But we are in communication with the owners to try and resolve the issue."

The South Hams Society said: "The council's failure to act sends the wrong message and erodes trust in the planning process.

"The overall impression is that the owners have no respect for either the landscape in which they are privileged to live or the law."

The charity said it was also concerned that if nothing was done, retrospective applications would become "planning approval by the back door".

The skate park, tennis court and garage were branded an "eyesore" in a "unique and iconic landscape" in an objection lodged by West Alvington Parish Council.

The house at Gerston Point was itself built after a controversial planning application in 2011, on the site of a bungalow formerly owned by the environmentalist Tony Soper, co-founder of the BBC's famous Natural History Unit.

That 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 the tennis court, skate park and garage, which was finished in 2016.

Planning documents said the reason for refusal of the application was that the development "represents an unwelcome and incongruous intrusion into an undeveloped countryside location that is within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Undeveloped Coast".

The planning committee concluded the building results in "significant adverse impacts to the natural beauty, special qualities, distinctive character, landscape and scenic beauty of the South Devon AONB".

Speaking after the decision Mr Thomas said: "This is a complex procedure which I am working on with the help of a consultant.

"However, please be assured that I and my family very much appreciate the special nature of Gerston Point and feel privileged to have lived there for the past seven years or more."

Following the latest criticism he added: "Discussions are continuing."