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Castle must be demolished due to lack of planning permission

Robert Fidler a 66- year-old farmer who built a dream home at his estate in Salfords, Surrey failed to gain the required planning permission before constructing the new dwelling.

Now after a 9 year legal battle it has been ordered that the home must be pulled down in the next 90 days.
Mr. Fidler started building the house in 2000 on the farmyard that he bought in 1985. The property was built as a castle in a Tudor style complete with battlements and cannons and has an estimated worth of £1million pounds on the open market. The building work was completed in 2002 and Mr Fidler started to live in the new home with his wife Linda and son Harry.

Mr Fidler was planning to use a legal loophole by which after four years without any objections new building work is allowed to stand as it is. To achieve this the house was deliberately hidden behind a huge stack of straw bales for four years.

The scheme worked because no one suspected anything and the family went to great lengths to keep the hidden house a secret. On one occasion Mr Fidler's son Harry was due to complete an assignment at playschool to paint scenes of their home, so they made sure he did not go to school that day.

When Mr. Fidler finally removed the straw bales and revealed his building in 2006 some of the neighbours were shocked by what they saw and many of them expressed their anger because everyone else respected the planning law. The local authority took a similar view.

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council were first to come with conclusion that Mr. Fidler had tried to manipulate the law (and because the property was hidden in that four year period and no one was aware of it existence they could not object to it) and ordered demolition.

Specialists in Construction Insurance

After that order the farmer appealed to the Planning Inspectorate who also ruled against him. Finally in a bid to keep his home he took his case to the High Court in 2009 and to the Court of Appeal the following year, both dismissed his case.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has now made the final decision and ruled that the four bedroom home must be pulled down or Mr Fidler will face jail.

A council spokesman said: “The Secretary of State’s decision demonstrates that people who ignore planning rules for the good of everyone are likely to find themselves in this unfortunate position.

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