Court orders demolition of £1m “man cave”

Forest of Dean DC v Wildin [2018] EWHC 2811 (QB) During 2013-14, Gloucestershire accountant Graham Wildin had an enormous 10,000 sq ft two-storey “man cave” built in his back garden.  Its features include a cinema, two lane ten-pin bowling alley, squash court, tennis court, bar area and casino. Mr Wildin’s argument was that the building was permitted development.  The Council advised him that it was not.  Mr Wildin built it anyway.  The Council served an enforcement notice.  Mr Wildin appealed.  The Inspector had no hesitation in concluding that the building was not permitted development, and he upheld the enforcement notice.  Undaunted, Mr Wildin appealed in the High Court.  His appeal was dismissed.  The enforcement notice took effect and Mr Wildin had two years within which to demolish the building.  He did not do so.  Mr Wildin made it plain that he had no intention of demolishing the building.  The Council thus applied for an injunction order under section 187B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.  By the time of the hearing, it was common ground that the demolition works would probably cost Mr Wildin around £750,000.  Notwithstanding his five properties, classic car collection and successful accountancy firm, Mr Wildin argued that he could not afford the demolition works.  He had a range of other arguments, including the assertion that demolition would risk injury or death owing to land instability in the area caused by the historic coal mining in the Forest of Dean. By way of a Judgment and Order dated 26 October and 16 November 2018, the High Court granted the Council’s injunction application and ordered Mr Wildin to demolish his sports and leisure building within 18 months. Stephen Whale of Landmark Chambers successfully represented Forest of Dean DC in the injunction proceedings.  Previously, Stephen successfully represented Reigate & Banstead BC in the injunction and contempt of court proceedings leading to the demolition of Mr Fidler’s notorious DIY “castle” (the one hidden under straw bales for over four years).  He also recently represented Dartmoor National Park Authority in successful injunction proceedings compelling the removal of a claimed “low impact off grid” settlement in a Devon woodland. For a copy of the Wildin Judgment, click here.

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