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The Fight for Fiddler’s Castle Continues

The story of Fiddler’s Castle on Honeycrock Farm in Salfords England has been going on for years now. We first highlighted the story back in July 2008 and ironically because of the spelling mistake that post continues to be one of the highest traffic drivers to urbanneighbourhood.com. Yesterday the Homes From Hell feature of Fidler’s Castle must have been shown again because there was a spike of visitors. Because of all the interest we decided to do some more research and see if we could find any new news.

On November 19th 2009 Mr Fidler went before the British High Court in a bid to convince High Court Judge Sir Thane Forbes to overturn the decision of the government planning inspector who ruled that the structure had to be torn down in May of 2008.

The key aspect of the case revolves around a decision as to when the construction of the house was “substantially completed”. Mr Fidler and his counsel argue that the home was finished in 2002 when Mr Fidler and his family moved into the building and no further modifications were made to the structure for the next four years.

Planning law in the Reigate & Banstead Borough states that if a property is “substantially completed” for four years, it is legally allowed to exist.

In 2006 four years after construction of the house itself was completed Mr Fidler removed the barricade of straw bales and tarpaulin, believing that since the building had been completed for four years it should be granted planning permission.

Image by Flickr User Pilgrimbridgeclub

The government planning inspector argued otherwise finding that “the removal of the straw bale disguise constituted part of the building works” and as a result the inspector found that Mr Fidler could not rely on the four year immunity period which starts from “substantial completion,” and the Reigate & Banstead Borough Council issued a demolition notice.

Mr Fidler’s appeal, launched on the 19th of November centres on the question of when exactly the castle was “complete.” The town argues that the removal of the hay bales was a substantial part of construction, the lawyers for the Fidler family argues that it was not. “The appellant’s case is that the removal of the bales was not part of the building operation against which the enforcement notice was directed.” The Fidler’s argue that the removal of the straw bales was a separate operation and as such doesn’t breach planning control. Consul argued that the building was “substantially complete” more then four years earlier in 2002 when the family moved into the home and that “no other reasonable conclusion is possible… construction was complete and it was in occupation… the removal of the bales cannot even be classified as part of a building operation. The decision was wrong in law and should be quashed”.

Image by Flickr User Pilgrimbridgeclub

High Court Justice Thane Forbes Stated “The key point in your case is whether the inspector was right to conclude that the removal of the bales and the tarpaulin formed part of the building operation.”

At the end of the two days of arguments before the High Court Justice Forbes reserved judgment and is expected to give his decision in writing soon.

Of course even that may not be the end of it, Robert Fidler has already stated “We are determined to take this all the way to the top. We are quite sure that ultimately we will win”.

Image by Flickr User Pilgrimbridgeclub

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29 Responses to “The Fight for Fiddler’s Castle Continues”

  1. The whole thing seems so silly. I heard about it on the BBC ‘News Quiz’ and had to check it out for myself.

    Why didn’t Fidler work through normal bureaucratic channels in the first place? As an architect, I would say that he irrationally made the decision to take on a HUGE risk carrying potentially disastrous consequences.

    He is obviously a victim of his own pride and arrogance and consequently acted like a complete knob stone. However, his ensuing legal costs should be penalty enough.

    IF the property is fully on his own land and presents no threat to human health or safety, the city is wasting valuable time and $$$ by pursuing this case. Instead, they should simply put their egos aside, amend their planning ordinance to close the loop hole and MOVE ON.


    Posted by Robert | 08/02/2010, 3:27 pm
  2. To clarify:

    Fidler pays ALL legal costs and keeps his house.

    Posted by Robert | 08/02/2010, 3:28 pm
  3. Why can’t they just leave the man alone. He built a house for his family. That is no sin.

    Posted by Mike Guttmann | 18/04/2010, 8:09 pm
  4. With all the homelessness and economic chaos in this world the home inspector should be removed from his position if he is serious about this as it appears. Himself and the fools that are wasting badly needed funds listening to him. Absolutely ridiculous-and the English are supposed to be civilized!

    Posted by Victor | 22/05/2010, 5:17 pm
  5. Laws are Laws, green space is green space and what gives mr fiddler the right to ignore the Law, he knew it was a risk that’s why he hid the construction.
    People abide with council building applications why not the fiddler family, sorry but he took the risk, get it pulled down and give them a caravan to live in, some people are happy with what they have without going against planning applications sorry he didn’t go against planning application because he didn’t even bother applying.
    I watched homes from hell and Mr fiddler seemed a little arrogant maybe it was just the way the programme showed him because i don’t him personally.
    He is not above the law, they should let the guy with the crane out of nick to demolish it.

    Posted by Jimbo | 27/11/2010, 3:59 pm
  6. mr fiddler should keep his home .where i live this council have a lot of regulation as to what we can do or not do .we are not allowed to have a fence over 18 inches round our front garden ,this is in our deeds,thats the whole estate, but the council have broken the rules by putting up a fence three and a half foot high .so they make the rules up as they want ,but we the council tax payer have to abide by their rules.this is costing us again the tax payer a lot of money which could be put to better use

    Posted by jackie ferry | 28/11/2010, 7:00 am
  7. In Planning there should not be one rule for one and one for another. We all have to go through the sometimes tortuous process of obtaining Planning Permission and I have no doubt that Mr Fidler new he would get a tough ride if he did a proper job and got proper Planning Permission to say nothing of Building regs. I would guess Planning for a design like this would be unlikely. What happens if you ever wanted to put it on the market. Difficulties and problems alround and either we have some rules or we go back to pre 1947 and a free for all.

    Posted by Janet Duncton | 09/12/2010, 10:58 am
  8. My Friend here says he thinks mr Fiddler is above the law,its not on and he should be jailed for the crime hes committed. but my partner on the other hand thinks fare play to him and i am stuck in the middle with one bloody headache……….

    Posted by Rosie Reynolds | 19/04/2011, 4:08 pm
  9. Just watched homes from hell and came across this idiot and his folly. Bottom line, our society depends on the rule of law and co-operation by the citizens to those rules. You don’t get to pick and chose which ones you think are in your interest to follow. He tried to circumvent planning laws by being dishonest and devious. If we want to keep this England a green and pleasant land we have to abide by the planning rules. He should be made to rip it down and pay the relevant legal costs of both his defence and that of the council otherwise he’s made a mockery of our laws and everyone else who follows them.

    Posted by Bialzibozo | 19/04/2011, 4:15 pm
  10. Fidler comes across as a likeable rogue, pushing the boundaries of our laws and not afraid of a risk or adventure, however what must not happen is a precedent for this type of building on green belt land.

    Gary Corbett

    Posted by Gary Corbett | 19/04/2011, 4:24 pm
  11. Top man and fair play, if the hole in the law is there, step on through.
    Beautiuful house.
    If the rates person couldn’t be bothered to look in to a pile of straw, why should he be bothered to demolish it. Who is harmed, matbe now the council will review its laws.

    Posted by Paul Simon | 19/04/2011, 4:29 pm
  12. Let him keep it, it looks a lovely house and does not spoil the landscape, afterall an englishmans home is his castle .If were travelers that set up home there they would be able to stay there!!

    Posted by Paul Humphrey | 20/04/2011, 2:24 pm
  13. fantastic

    Posted by russell bates | 23/10/2011, 9:38 am
  14. Anyone know whats happend so far now nov 2011 just watched homes from hell and intrested

    Posted by taylor | 16/11/2011, 7:38 pm
  15. Pull it down after all the fuss over the Travlers sites why should this man get away with it, if he does I will go out and build my own house in the country.

    Posted by Peter | 16/11/2011, 7:39 pm
  16. I think the council should just move on and close the loophole from letting this happen again. I am in the building industry and think it’s such a beautiful and unusual building, it should be left standing. Perhaps put a covenant on it to stop him from selling it at a profit or 50 years.

    Posted by M Lewis | 16/11/2011, 7:40 pm
  17. I have just been watching a repeat of homes from hell. And was wondering did he get to keep the house? I hope he did, I quite liked the bloke.

    Posted by Andy Wilson | 16/11/2011, 7:40 pm
  18. mr fiddler is the epitomy of s true englishman well done for tsking on the pen pushing form filling beurocrats.to many people bow down tto this nanny state that tries to control every aspect of our lives.the council should wipe their nose and move on tthey have been beaten at their own game.an englishmans home is indeed his castle

    Posted by darren bambrough | 16/11/2011, 7:45 pm
  19. With all the corruption there is in “planning” and the “grace and favour” permissions granted this is very small beer, he has complied with the law as written and only a member of the mad hatter’s tea party would claim that moving the screen had anything to do with the build construction.

    Posted by Norman Sands | 16/11/2011, 7:49 pm
  20. Well I have just seen the programme about Fidlers Castle, do you know what I admire this guy, rightly or wrongly, I think the property looks absolutely fantastic well built (what we can see) I appreciate it’s green belt but we do have a working farm around it, so come on let him be.

    The bottom line is jealousy this guy has got the balls to do it and it looks great, fare play mate.

    Posted by Barry Vincent | 16/11/2011, 7:53 pm
  21. are those bats in your loft robert ??careful nobody disturbs them that would br unlawfull lol

    Posted by darren bambrough | 16/11/2011, 8:08 pm
  22. He knew he would not be able to leagally build on green belt land but he bothered to find out about the existance of an archaic law.

    Good for him, councillors stop throwing your toys out of the pram how childish. All these rules and regulations put in place by envious bureaucrats who begrudge anyone anything just because he didn’t follow the rule book to the letter.

    Mr. Fidler found the loop hole so it should leagally stand it’s a beautiful home that he should be proud of. Councellors get off your high horse and stop wasting tax payers money over being jell.

    Posted by Michelle | 17/11/2011, 8:14 am
  23. Since using hay bales to conceal a construction site is not common practice in the trade, Fidler clearly knew that he was in the wrong. The rest of you who insist on giving him a break and letting it go have obviously have not considered the environmental impact on the land from fixed structures. Rules and laws believe it or not are here to safe guard people and the land. Since Fidler is apparently a Christian, then surely he should live his life through the bible. I wonder how he works Leviticus 25 v18? Personal gain through deception? Absolutely

    Posted by Matt Bates | 01/12/2011, 10:30 am
  24. I think that if the council are making such a point about the hay bales constituting a part of the building, then the fact that they did nothing about the bales going up in the first place would put emphasis on the lengh of time they knew about the dwelling and the fact that they left it too long is there problem.I wish the Fidlers all good luck and hope that common sense will prevail and the council just put this one down to experience.

    Posted by Gary Martin. | 14/02/2012, 1:04 pm
  25. castle fidler envy of europe come on ukip help the guy out.

    Posted by kenneth george | 31/05/2013, 4:57 pm
  26. let the mad hatter uk gov. knock down the e.u.and our english castles standing.

    Posted by kenneth george | 17/09/2013, 4:38 pm
  27. It is now June 2014? What is the situation now? I do hope you win Robert and that beautiful house which I would love to see still stands.

    Posted by Sue Garcia | 10/06/2014, 7:21 pm
  28. i don’t think any one should be able to tell you what you can do with your own land. not like any high up mps or council members care of laws when its them selfs.

    Posted by kraig | 01/01/2016, 7:22 pm


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