New Tricks in Illegal Building: Cover it in Hay

In many parts of the world there are development controls to preserve natural landscapes, watercourses and farmland, but there is constant pressure as well to build monster homes in the country and greenbelts are constantly under attack by devious developers or clever lawyers.

Or, as in the case of Robert Fidler of Surrey in the UK, one very patient farmer. Hiding behind 40 foot high wall of hay bales, he built himself a home and kept it tarped for four years to comply with a rule that if nobody complains about something for that period, it is permitted to stay, kind of like a statute of limitations. Then he pulled down the tarps....

...and revealed a faux tudor castle, complete with ramparts and cannons.

According to the Evening Standard:

'Problems began last April when Mr Fidler, thinking he had beaten the planning system, applied for a certificate of lawfulness which is given if a property is erected but nobody objects to it after four years.

But Reigate and Banstead Council says the four-year period after which the building would be allowed to stay is void – because nobody had been given a chance to see it.

The matter will now be decided in February by the council's planning inspector, who could give the Fidlers as little as six months to tear the castle down."

We have heard of many tricks to beat the system, and usually the builder gets away with it, often with little more than a slap on the wrist. However this nibbling away at protected land ultimately adds up and becomes a real problem. It will be interesting to see if he gets away with it. ::Evening Standard via ::Splurch