Surrey

Salfords farmer Robert Fidler's castle battle goes to inquiry

Robert Fidler
Image caption Robert Fidler said he had done "nothing wrong" in providing a home for his family

A farmer's fight to stop the demolition of a mock Tudor castle he built without planning permission is being considered by a planning inspector.

Robert Fidler built the castle at Honeycrock Farm in Salfords, Surrey, in 2002 and hid it behind a haystack.

He was first ordered to tear it down in 2008 and has been fighting a legal battle with Reigate and Banstead Borough Council ever since.

An inquiry is hearing his latest appeal against refusal of planning permission.

'Family home'

The four-bedroom property in the Green Belt includes a kitchen, living room, study, a gravelled forecourt and a conservatory.

Mr Fidler, who keeps a herd of Sussex cattle at the farm, submitted a new planning application in February 2014 to retain the house in Axes Lane on the basis of agricultural need.

It was refused by the council in April.

"As far as I am concerned we have done nothing wrong," he said.

"We've never broken any laws, contrary to what the authorities seem to be trying to suggest.

"All I have done is provided my family with a home to live in.

"For the few years before we did that we were living in a shed in the corner of the yard."

Image caption The house has turrets on one side and mock Tudor beams on the other

Mr Fidler lost a High Court appeal against the order to demolish the property in 2010.

In June 2014, the council obtained a High Court injunction requiring him to comply with four outstanding enforcement notices to demolish the unauthorised building.

He was given 90 days, subject to the outcome of the current planning appeal.

The council said it would not comment while the inquiry was taking place.

The two-day hearing at Reigate Town Hall ends on Wednesday.

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