LADY VERULAM, the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, is embroiled in a planning row over a former potting shed on the Gorhambury Estate.

The 52-year-old countess, appointed by the Queen in June as her official representative in the county, wants to convert the building to residential use.

St Albans District Council has refused the scheme, which would involve an extension, planning permission as "an unacceptable intensification of the use of the Green Belt".

The countess' appeal states: "The proposed use will not cause any greater harm to the countryside than the former use."

Her lawyers argue that people living in the building would deter vandals who have damaged property on the estate including the remains of the original Gorhambury House.

The dispute will be resolved by a government inspector after written representations.