An Englishman’s Castle Is His Home – But Not If You Try And Hide It From The Council

February 11, 2010

Do you remember a moment when as a child you broke something valuable and you hid it in the hope your parents wouldn’t notice or find out and that somehow you’d get away with it? Do you also remember the futility of that action as they did notice, they did find out and you got away with nothing but a grounding, or a smack? Imagine a grown man hiding something in the hope it wouldn’t be found, only to come unstuck at a later date? Let me introduce you then to Mr Robert Fidler of Salfords, Surrey.

Mr Fidler, without planning permission, built a castle. It took two years to build at the cost of £50,000. He hid it behind bales of straw, covered it in blue tarpaulin and lived there with his family for four years. In 2006 he uncovered the castle thinking that as he’d lived there for four years without objection, it would be legal. The council thought differently and decided the four-year rule was void as there couldn’t be an objection to something no one could see. In 2007, the council issued an enforcement order for the demolition of the castle and last week Deputy High Court Judge Sir Thayne Forbes backed the council, saying this:

“In my view, the inspector’s findings of fact make it abundantly clear that the erection/removal of the straw bales was an integral – indeed an essential ‘fundamentally related’ – 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.”
From the Daily Telegraph 3.2.10

In other words, you tried to fool the council, you got caught out, now pay the price. He’s looking to appeal, but so far, it’s not looking good. Shame, really because if he’d done it the right way, he could’ve featured on channel 4’s Grand Designs and he would’ve been praised for that beautiful castle.

And he would’ve still had a home.



  1. God loves a tryer…

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