If you built your dream home for yourself and your family and then were told by the government that it had to be knocked down, what would you do? That's the problem that 63-year-old farmer Robert Fidler is facing in the southern England county of Surrey, but there's more to the story.
In 2001, Fidler began constructing the home, which is now called Honeycrock Farmhouse and resembles a castle, but he did not get permission to build it from the Reigate and Banstead Borough Council. He secretly lived in the castle, which he hid under a large blue tarp and behind giant 40-foot-high bales of hay. In 2007, Fidler was ordered to tear down the four-bedroom home.
The guidelines from the council state that any structure built without planning permission but unchallenged for four or more years does not have to be demolished. Reigate and Banstead refused to grant retrospective planning permission, and after six years of fighting through the appeals system, Fidler and his wife, Laura, are being told that the four-bedroom castle must come down. The high court's reasoning is based on the fact that Fidler kept the home concealed and he "set out deliberately to deceive."
The Fidlers plan to continue the appeals process for as long as they can, with Robert Fidler saying, "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."
Fidler has just six weeks to present another appeal to the high court.
- Politics & Government