Farmer hides castle from building inspectors

jetsetter

Forum Addict
Joined
Dec 11, 2005
Messages
7,257
Location
Seren?sima Rep?blica de California
Car(s)
1997 BMW 528i
Hiding a needle in a haystack is easy enough.

But Robert Fidler kept something much bigger concealed among the piles of straw down on his farm... a castle.

Over the course of two years, he managed to secretly ? and unlawfully ? build the imposing mock Tudor structure in one of his fields, shielded behind a 40ft stack of hay bales covered by a huge tarpaulins.


The family hid the house behind hay bales 40ft high for four years while it was being
built - in a failed bid to avoid having to apply for planning permission



An Englishman's home is his castle: The Fidlers dream home complete with ramparts
and cannons


Once it was finished, he and his family moved in and lived there for four years before finally revealing the development ? complete with battlements and cannons ? in August 2006.

Mr Fidler claims that because the building has been there for four years with no objections, it is no longer illegal.

But he is under siege from council planners, who say the castle at Honeycrock Farm, Salfords, Redhill, Surrey, will have to be knocked down.

"I can't believe they want to demolish this beautiful house," said 59-year-old Mr Fidler. "To me they are no different than vandals who just want to smash it down."

Mr Fidler, a farmer, erected the disguise in 2000 out of hundreds of 8ftx4ft bales of straw and covered the top with blue tarpaulin.


The Fidler's country kitchen is located in the turret of their 'castle'

fter building the castle on the site of two grain silos at a cost of ?50,000, he and his wife Linda went to extraordinary lengths to keep it secret. That included keeping their son Harry, now seven, away from playschool the day he was supposed to do a painting of his home in class.

"We couldn't have him drawing a big blue haystack ? people might asked questions," said 39-year-old Mrs Fidler.

Mr Fidler, who has five children from a previous marriage, said: "We moved into the house on Harry's first birthday, so he grew up looking at straw out of the windows.

"We thought it would be a boring view but birds nested there and feasted on the worms. We had several families of robins and even a duck made a nest and hatched 13 ducklings on top of the bales."

But neighbours were unimpressed.

One said: "Nobody thought anything of it when the hay went up. It was presumed he was building a barn or something similar.

"It was a complete shock when the hay came down and this castle was in its place. Everyone else has to abide by planning laws, so why shouldn't they?"

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.

The family are not alone in falling foul of planning laws.

Last November pensioners Eileen and Eamonn Kelly were told they would face prison unless they demolished the one-bedroom extension on their semi-detached home in Swanley, Kent after planners said it was "out of keeping" with the area.

More recently around a dozen Britons living in Spain have had their homes torn down after a clampdown on illegally built properties built on the coastline.

A spokeswoman for the Reigate council said: "Mr Fidler has built the house without planning permission, not sought retrospective planning permission and now claims it is legal because it has been up for four years.

"We don't think the four-year rule applies because it had been hidden behind bales of hay."

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=510161&in_page_id=1770
This dude is my new hero.:cool:
 

Crazyjeeper

NickGyver
DONOR
Joined
Nov 29, 2006
Messages
7,896
Location
Dallas, TX
Car(s)
F150, CJ7, Mustang GT, Tenere, Griso
FIGHT THEM! That is an awesome house, might have to use those cannons...
 

avanti

Forum Addict
Joined
Jul 22, 2005
Messages
6,537
Location
Milano, Italia
Car(s)
5 cars + 8 motorcycles
Its on a field for christ sake, on his own property. Ok, he "broke" the law, but it looks great, leave him alone I say!
 

Loz

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2007
Messages
2,306
Location
Cornwall, UK
Hope he gets to keep his house, looks fantastic. Shame on the miderable people who want to tear it down, bot the people in Reigate and the people in the comments on the site.
 

toma_alimosh

Also known as "Myke Hunt"
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Messages
4,468
Location
The North American Foundry
Car(s)
2014 Volkswagen Jetta
So, technically, the only laws he broke were the ones that say you can't have a better house than your neighbours. Why not??
Why shouldn't you be able to build what you want on your own property? Why does every house on the block have to look absolutely identical to yours? Especially in the country, where no farms or houses EVER look the same.

It's still residential property, it's just higher valued residential property. In essence, it brings property prices up in the region, just because the castle is there. That means more property taxes for the municipal government (considerably higher for the castle, but very little change for the neighbours and considerably higher selling price for the neighbours that move out of there.
 

Punisher Bass

He who drives a Buick
Joined
Feb 25, 2007
Messages
3,259
Location
St Louis, MO
Car(s)
98 Buick Park Avenue Ultra
My hat is off to him, and I hope something can be worked out. If not? Let them eat cannon ball!
 

toma_alimosh

Also known as "Myke Hunt"
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Messages
4,468
Location
The North American Foundry
Car(s)
2014 Volkswagen Jetta
^Gee, I haven't thought of that .... so how are they gonna tear it down? Will they be able to find construction workers brave enough to go with bulldozers against cannons?
 

Donington

Forum Addict
Joined
Jan 26, 2007
Messages
5,651
Location
UK
Car(s)
'05 Honda Civic Type-R
I was expecting a more light hearted and humorous article, like

'Farmer hides castle from building inspectors ...

...but forgets to hide the murdered hitchikers'

But anyway, thats a very interesting story indeed
 

chaos386

.sa = bad driver!
Joined
Nov 8, 2004
Messages
7,960
Location
Back in Saudia
Car(s)
SEAT Leon FR
I'm going to have to go against the crowd here and disagree that he's in the right about this. He now has a house that was built without having to conform to any sort of construction code, which sounds fine if the house never changes hands, but what if he tries to sell it one day and fails to mention to prospective buyers that the house isn't necessarily built properly? Also, he didn't "fight an unjust law", he hid away and tried to weasel his way out of it by saying it's been up for four years.

Yeah, the Nanny State goes overboard a lot of times, but that doesn't justify people going "Fuck rules! Those are just for other people!"
 

wooflepoof

Watermelon Connoisseur
Joined
Jul 18, 2005
Messages
5,047
Location
Texas
Car(s)
Genesis Sedan 3.8
DAMN that sucks that place is LOVELY. REMEMBER THE ALAMO! & castle
 

toma_alimosh

Also known as "Myke Hunt"
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Messages
4,468
Location
The North American Foundry
Car(s)
2014 Volkswagen Jetta
I'm going to have to go against the crowd here and disagree that he's in the right about this. He now has a house that was built without having to conform to any sort of construction code, which sounds fine if the house never changes hands, but what if he tries to sell it one day and fails to mention to prospective buyers that the house isn't necessarily built properly? Also, he didn't "fight an unjust law", he hid away and tried to weasel his way out of it by saying it's been up for four years.

Yeah, the Nanny State goes overboard a lot of times, but that doesn't justify people going "Fuck rules! Those are just for other people!"
Nah, you're confusing 2 different things: municipal planning and municipal construction codes. Construction codes deal with the standard quality of a construction, while planning deals with what to build where.What municipal planning laws say is: farming ground goes in this area of town, private housing goes in this area of town and industrial sites go in this area of town.

But far from the fact that this brings its own benefits to the landscape of the city, they go one step further and dictate the values of properties per area. So they decide where the big houses go (usually together, where the land costs most and the taxes are the highest) ... where the average houses go (again together, somewhere quite a bit further from the "rich houses") and then the small houses (together, somewhere near the industrial sites of town, or even inter-mingled with construction sites and industrial areas).

Thus: you can't build a really big house where they don't want you to build one, such as in farm country. Why? because they don't want you to. They want you to build it on the very high taxed grounds or not at all, so they won't have to accept any intermediate tax levels. The biggest point of planning laws is to maximize the ammount of taxes the municipal government receives, and the only benefit to citizens from it is that their house looks the same as their neighbours, so they don't feel smaller than "The Smiths" and that they live in a neighbourhood with parks and a whole lot of homes crammed together rather than in the country side.
 

KaJuN

Disco Inferno
Joined
Jul 31, 2006
Messages
9,745
Location
Dayton, Ohio
Car(s)
Mini Cooper S, Landy Series III, Vulcan 900 Custom
Let me get this straight...the guy had an ugly wall of hay bales for four years and nobody said anything about it. Then he tears it down to reveal a beautiful house and they want to make him demolish it? :confused: I hope he gets to keep it.
 

Lupin_IV

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
3,876
Location
about 10 miles north of Carlisle, PA
Car(s)
'84 Pontiac Parisienne, '93 Chevy Caprice
I'm wondering about the logistics in having a large enough stack of hay bales to obscure a house sitting in the same place for four straight years without someone thinking it odd.
 

KaJuN

Disco Inferno
Joined
Jul 31, 2006
Messages
9,745
Location
Dayton, Ohio
Car(s)
Mini Cooper S, Landy Series III, Vulcan 900 Custom
^ Yeah I'm wondering about the logistics of getting all those building materials onto his property without anyone thinking it's suspicious. Surely a barn doesn't take four years to complete even if you're doing it yourself. Not to mention it shouldn't require the vast amount of stuff the guy needed to build a whole castle.
 

Peter3hg

Forum Addict
Joined
May 3, 2006
Messages
5,949
Location
Manchester, UK
Car(s)
Audi A3 1.4 TFSI Honda Hornet CB600S
The pictures carefully avoid the shit heap of a farm he is living on. I have no sympathy for the guy, he took the chance and will now pay the price. The structure will have had no proper structural checks and he's stuck it on a green belt, where it's practically impossible to get permission for anything.

The "Castle" is the blue bit at the top.
 

CyberMonkey

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2005
Messages
2,068
Location
Belgium
That thing is proposterous. Wtf was he thinking?

We need a thread "housebage" for things like this. I don't get it that the same persons laughing at ricers trying to make a ferrari out of their volkswagen golf think of this thing as "beautiful".
It might look cool whey you are ten, with the cannons and all. It has no style or authenticity and the proportions are, erm, non-existant.
 
Last edited:
Top