Planning Dispute Over Hidden Castle

March 28, 2016

The High Court heard this week how a farmer who hid an illegally built four-bedroom castle behind a haystack has been told he faces jail unless he knocks it down.

Robert Fidler, built the property in 2000 and hid it from the council behind a giant wall of straw for years. The farmer had hoped that by concealing the house in Surrey he could exploit a loophole that meant if a construction was uncontested by the local council for four years, authorities could not touch it. His family moved into the home in 2002 but it was later discovered by Reigate and Banstead Borough council, which ordered its demolition in 2007.

Mr Fidler tried to argue against a court injunction ordering the property's demolition, claiming it cannot be knocked down because it is home to protected bats and newts. However, Mr Justice Dove rejected his pleas and warned Mr Fidler that he faces a three month prison sentence unless he pulls it down by June 6 2016. He has also ordered Mr Fidler to pay the council's legal costs, estimated in the region of £50,000. The property is believed to be worth in the region of 1 million pounds.

In light of the above, we cannot stress enough the need for the council’s consent for any structural alterations to the property, prior to any works being carried out.

For further advice please call our dedicated property team at BHW solicitors on 0116 289 7000. BHW is based at Grove Park in Leicester (just off Junction 21 of the M1) and benefits from free parking and easy accessibility.

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