Simple green shed divides neighbours in small south Canterbury town

A simple green shed on the outskirts of a small south Canterbury town has seen neighbours divided, petitions signed and claims of thousands of dollars lost.

The shed, built by Michael Sherriff, houses a caravan he lives in.

But the size and scale of the building has neighbours seeing… well, a very dark shade of red.

"We didn't expect anything quite like that," said one.

"We presumed it was only going to be a normal sized shed," said another.

Mavis Pirini is most affected by the shed – she’s the closest neighbour, and she was asked to sign a consent form before the building went up.

"The biggest impact has been the loss of daylight, loss of sunlight, warmth, just a very dark place to be in now," she says.

Mavis did sign the consent form – on the basis it was 3.6 metres high.

She says she didn't see any actual plans for the shed – only a single sketch.

Now, she stares out at an enormous dark green wall that’s more than five metres high and blocks nearly all her morning sun.

"For years I've known eventually something would be built there," she says.

But she never thought it would be the shed.

The neighbour, Michael Sherriff, says he did give Mavis plans for the shed – and he doesn’t think the height was misstated.

"The height [on the consent form] is the stud height - the wall height," he said.

"This is where Mavis and I are in dispute, I gave her elevation drawings from Total Span," he says.

But the Waimate District Council doesn’t require any evidence to prove that plans have been seen - and Mavis disputes that she was given those drawings.

The Council says once Mavis signed the form, by law it wasn’t allowed to consider any effects on Mavis – even if the consent didn’t state the actual roof height.

"The Council must not have regard to any effect on a person who has given written approval to the application," it said in a statement.

Council did consider a range of other factors that Mavis and her neighbours are also unhappy about – such as the size of the shed, access to sunlight, ground coverage and boundary limits but said all the other effects it considered were 'minor'.

It says the discrepancy in the stated roof height on the plans, and what is written on the form Mavis signed, was also 'minor'.

Not so to Mavis – she’s had two opinions from real estate agents, who reckon the shed’s wiped around $40,000 off the value of her property.

Michael Sherriff doesn’t think the shed’s made any difference.

"I've built that in the worst part of the street" he says.

But the drastic change to the landscape on the street has prompted the neighbours to get a petition together urging the Council to do something – around 180 people signed it.

It’s made no difference, and Mavis says Council haven't done anything to help.

"I was just told that the shed's there, get used to it".

The Waimate District Council says if Mavis had approached them for information prior to signing, staff "could have worked with her to ensure that she fully understood the environmental effects at that time".

It now says it's changed its forms, to require anyone being asked for consent to also sign plans detailing the building proposed.

It’s also willing to consider Fair Go’s suggestion that a clause be included to advise a property owner they can seek independent or Council advise, before putting pen to paper.

For Mavis, it’s all too late.

And she regrets having ever signed the form.

"Yes, very deeply I do. It's changed my life," she says.

It's been claimed to be an eyesore, and the Waimate shed is disturbing the peace and tranquillity. Source: Fair Go