Rather than apply for a building permit before starting construction, a UK farmer hid his newly built castle behind a massive wall of hay bales for four years, at which point he applied for a certificate of lawfulness
“A farmer learned the hard way today that while an Englishman’s home may be his castle, even if it is hidden behind giant bales of straw, it will still need planning permission.
Robert Fidler, who built his mock Tudor castle, hiding it during construction and for some time afterwards behind straw bales and a tarpaulin, yesterday lost a high court battle to prevent its demolition.
Fidler, 61, built the luxury four-bedroom property, complete with ramparts, turrets and cannon, over two years, and then 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.
Asked why he had built a castle, Fidler said he had wanted to convert a cowshed into a home, but was told the building could only be used for industrial purposes. “”They say an Englishman is entitled to have his castle. I thought that maybe I could claim this to be my castle, and see if there was any mileage in that,”” he said. “”It was part of the dream of being able to build and own your own house.””
But Reigate and Banstead council failed to share Fidler’s romantic ideal and issued an enforcement notice in March 2007 requiring the castle’s demolition on grounds he had erected it without planning permission.
Today, deputy high court judge Sir Thayne Forbes, sitting in London, ruled that Fidler could not benefit from his deception of the local planning authority.”