In 2013, Graham Wildin began building “Britain’s biggest man cave” behind his home in the Forest of Dean. Extending to some 10,000 square feet, and costing around £1m to build, it incorporates a sports hall, squash court, ten pin bowling alley, cinema, casino, bar, children’s play area and more besides. The Council told Mr Wildin from the outset that it was not permitted development, despite his claim to the contrary, and the Inspector agreed when upholding the enforcement notice. Undaunted, Mr Wildin applied to the High Court for permission to appeal. His application was dismissed, but Mr Wildin did nothing to comply with the requirements of the enforcement notice. In late 2018, the Council obtained a planning injunction order requiring, amongst other things, the soft stripping of the building and the permanent decommissioning of its services. Mr Wildin’s various attempts to avoid compliance, including an application to the Court of Appeal and a putative application to the European Court of Human Rights, got him nowhere. The Council applied for an order committing Mr Wildin to prison for contempt of court.
At a High Court hearing last week, the Judge concluded that Mr Wildin was in contempt of court and sentenced him to 6 weeks in prison suspended for a year on terms that the building is permanently stripped and decommissioned within 18 weeks. Mr Wildin must now permanently disconnect the electricity and water supply. He must also now strip the building, including removal of: all the sports, leisure, play and gaming equipment (including the ten pin bowling alley and the squash court rear wall), the cinema screen, the bar, all doors, all internal windows, all furniture, all sanitary fixtures and fittings, all carpets, all timber flooring, all light fittings, all radiators, all ceilings and insulation, all kitchenware, cooking appliances, fridges and freezers, all vending machines, all pictures, all CCTV equipment, all alarms, all sockets, switches, fuses and metering, all entertainment and audio equipment, two staircases, the model railway, all mirrors and the glitter ball.
For a news report, click here.
Stephen Whale of Landmark Chambers successfully represented Forest of Dean District Council throughout the injunction and contempt proceedings. Previously, Stephen successfully represented Reigate and Banstead Borough Council in the planning injunction and contempt proceedings leading to the removal of Mr Fidler’s notorious “castle behind straw bales” in Surrey.