Earlier this weekend, I read about a British farmer who built a castle on his property without the appropriate planning permissions. Apparently, this farmer, named Robert Fidler, kept this castle hidden from everybody by concealing it under hundreds of bales of straw for a period of four years. Upon revealing it to his neighbours in late 2006, he was served with a planning contravention notice in March 2007 that ordered the demolition of the castle.
So what's the rub? This structure was built in the green belt that surrounds London. This green belt of open country and farmland is intended to contain urban sprawl, by containing development within it. As such, it is difficult to receive approval to build on greenbelt lands.
A spokeswoman for the Religate Town Hall said the following with regards to this development.
The site is located on the Green Belt and the developments constitute inappropriate development, which is harmful to the openness of the Green Belt.
However, there is a provision in England that says that the building could stay if there are no complaints after four years. Fidler contends that because this castle has been there for the requisite four years, it should be allowed to remain in place. The local government is saying that since no one could see it while it was hidden, the four year count started when it was unveiled, so that the building is eligible for demolition.
This past Wednesday, after a lengthy appeal, Fidler began protesting the notice at a public inquiry at Religate Town Hall. He is also reportedly standing up to the borough council on an enforcement notice for the building of a go-cart course on his land along with 12 other enforcement notices.
I think this serves as a lesson to those who want to build buildings illegally, especially in areas where they are not permitted. There are reasons why structures like this are not permitted, and there is a process to follow if you do want to build something where it is not permitted. Trying to do something like this behind everyone's back isn't a wise thing to do, as people will eventually find out about it, and the outcome usually won't be a positive one.