Fate of farmer's hidden castle is sealed
Building hidden behind bales of straw for four years will have to be demolished
Thursday 04 February 2010
He huffed and he puffed, but a farmer will still have to knock his house down, a court has ruled.
Surrey farmer Robert Fidler suspected he may not receive planning permission for a mock Tudor castle built on his land in Salford, near Redhill. So hoping to capitalise on a legal loophole, he constructed it hidden behind bales of straw and a tarpaulin, and has lived in it for four years, all the while leaving Reigate and Banstead council in the dark over its existence. But yesterday he lost a High Court battle to prevent its demolition.
Mr Fidler, 61, built the luxury four-bedroom property, complete with ramparts, turrets and cannon, over two years, and lived in it with his wife and son. He hoped to sidestep the planning system by applying for a certificate of lawfulness, sometimes applicable if no one objects to a newly built property for four years after construction. He kept the property secret from 2002, when it was finished, until 2006. When Mr Fidler removed the bales he believed the structure would no longer be subject to planning enforcement.
But Reigate and Banstead council issued an enforcement notice in March 2007 requiring the castle's demolition on grounds he had erected it without planning permission.
The High Court was asked to decide whether the removal of the straw bales and tarpaulin was, in the eyes of the law, part of the building operation.
Deputy High Court judge Sir Thayne Forbes said: "In my view, the inspector's findings of fact make it abundantly clear that the erection/ removal of the straw bales was an integral – indeed an essential – fundamentally related part of the building operations that were intended to deceive the local planning authority and to achieve by deception lawful status for a dwelling built in breach of planning control."
Mr Fidler still claims the castle is not illegal despite the ruling and pledged to take his fight to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary. He said: "This house will never be knocked down. This is a beautiful house that has been lovingly created. I will do whatever it takes to keep it."
The property includes a kitchen, living room, study, shower room and toilet and separate WC.
On the first floor, there are four bedrooms and another room still being fitted as a bathroom.
After the hearing Mr Fidler's solicitor, Pritpal Singh Swarn, said an appeal was being considered: "The judge appears to have left open the big question – when is a building substantially complete? It is necessary for the courts to draw the line as to what constitutes a completed development."
Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Wreckage could be found within a week as search reaches 'very critical juncture', says minister
Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
Royal Tour 2014: Is the Duchess of Cambridge the only person ever to climb into a fighter jet wearing a dress and high heels?
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 1 Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 How We Met: Alison Moyet & Emma Kennedy: 'I knew we'd be friends because she was happy to make a prat of herself'
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...