Subject: Hidden Castle must be pulled down
From: Alex Kemp
Date: Tuesday, 10 November 2015 01:00:17 +0000
To: Oliver Kemp, Micaela Kemp, Liisa Kemp, Davin Kemp (1:45 video)

Surrey farmer Robert Fidler, 66, has been ordered by the High Court to pull down his mock-Tudor castle, and faces imprisonment if he refuses to comply.

King of the Castle
Robert Fidler, 66, & the Castle whose construction he hid from the Council using bales of hay (pictured 2010)

This is just the latest in a series of events stretching over the last 15 years:

  1. Robert Fidler farms Honeycrock Farm in Salfords, Surrey.
  2. ~2000: he erects a 40ft (12m) wall of hay-bales, behind which he begins construction of a mock-Tudor castle on the site of 2 former grain-silos.
  3. 2002: he & his family move into the castle, now complete after expenditure of £50,000 GDP ($75,000 USD)
  4. 2006 August: the hay-bales are finally removed, revealing the castle (complete with battlements and cannons).

    Mr Fidler claims that, because the building has been there for four years with no objections, it is no longer illegal. For some reason, his local council disagrees.

    (In the meantime, and having clearly gained a taste for it, Mr Fidler also builds a go-kart track, a lake, bridge and a"marquee structure" - all without planning permission.)
  5. 2007: Reigate and Banstead Borough Council order the castle to be demolished.
  6. 2008: A Government planning inspector rejects Mr Fidler’s appeal against the demolition order.
  7. 2010: The High Court backs the planning inspector’s decision.
  8. (2010-2014: a whole series of planning applications & actions from Mr Fidler as he attempts to delay the inevitable)
  9. 2014 June: council obtains a High Court injunction requiring Mr Fidler to comply with 4 outstanding enforcement notices. The court gives Mr Fidler 90 days to demolish the castle.
  10. 2015 August: council lodge an application for a Contempt of Court hearing, as Mr Fidler has failed to knock his home down.
  11. 2015 October 22: Mr Fidler fails to appear at court. The judge issues a warrant for his arrest; the hearing rescheduled for 2 November.

    2015 October 22 (later): Mr Fidler arrives at court, claiming to have the wrong hearing times. Hearing rescheduled for 9 November.
  12. 2015 November 9: Mr Fidler claims that his attempt to demolish the house was thwarted by the presence of bats and newts. Further, that he had sold the property so it was no longer his responsibility.

    Mr Fidler found in contempt of court. Given a three-month suspended sentence. Ordered to knock his home down by 6 June 2016, else serve the suspended sentence.
Alex Kemp