House Was Hidden In Hay To Get Around Planning Laws. Should It Be Demolished?

fidler castle uk greenbelt photo rear


A while back we discussed Robert Fidler's castle in Surrey, which he built on controlled agricultural land. It was one of the most blatant and ingenious methods of getting round the rules; instead of covering it with a green roof like everyone else is these days, he buried it in hay, hoping that nobody would notice it for four years- there was a sort of statute of limitations that permitted houses that nobody complained about for that time.

But now the courts have said no dice, the four year limit doesn't apply in this case in that Fidler could not benefit from his deception. They say he as to demolish it.

hay covered castle

from our original post

Alexander Chancellor of the Guardian takes the side of Mr. Fidler:

We may grudgingly accept the need for planning controls to save what's left of our shrinking countryside, but the idea that an Englishman isn't free to do what he wants with his own property is still widely resented. It offends against something in his DNA.

fidler castle uk greenbelt photo front

Gareth Fuller via the Guardian.

He even likes the house.

If not exactly beautiful, his castle is an impressive piece of pastiche that might even find favour with Prince Charles. It is also an extraordinary achievement by one determined individual, who appears to have built it with his own bare hands and then lived in it for years in semi-darkness with nothing but bales of hay to look out on.

It is a view similar to that expressed by a commenter in our earlier post New Tricks in Illegal Building: Cover it in Hay:

I love the way all these posters think it is perfectly OK to tell this guy what he can and cannot build on his own property. You people would be right at home in the old Soviet Union. Granted, this is England, and they never did really understand what liberty really means.

Others might point out that there are reasons for preserving agricultural land and greenbelts, and that we have to stop the spread of exurban monster homes that are turning the countryside into a vast ultra-low density suburb.

Mr. Fidler appears to have a lot of support on this one, and might get away with it on appeal. What do you think?

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