The secret castle , the farmer and the judge

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Edinburgh Castle ( not the secret castle)

If you want to build your own castle and the local planning laws prevent it , what do you do ? Well, you could do what a farmer did – he built his castle and hid it for 4 years behind straw bales . Robert Fidler (sic) thought he could not be prosecuted after 4 years for breaking the planning law . Unfortunately a High Court judge took a different view and told him to demolish it .

A High Court judge ruled that Robert Fidler, 60, who sneakily built the luxury home – complete with ramparts and a cannon – deceived the local planning authority and was not entitled to benefit from the deception.

Mr Fidler, 60, from Surrey in southwest England, hoped to get another chance at gaining planning permission to keep his dream home.

He moved into the massive castle with his wife Linda and their son Harry in 2002 and successfully hid it from local authorities for four years by stacking up straw bales.

He took away the bales in May 2006 because he thought that after four years, his new home was immune from planning enforcement controls.

But the local council issued a notice in March 2007 requiring that it be demolished on the grounds that the building was erected without planning permission.

A government planning inspector rejected Mr Fidler’s appeal in May 2008, saying the removal of the straw bale camouflage constituted part of the building works.

The inspector said Mr Fidler could not rely on the four-year immunity period and must demolish the building.

The court considered whether the removal of the hay bales and tarpaulin was, in the eyes of the law, part of the ongoing building operation.

Ruling that it was, judge Sir Thayne Forbes said: “In my view, the inspector’s findings of fact make it abundantly clear that the erection (and) removal of the straw bales was an integral … 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.”[poll id=”1”]

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