Mr Fidler’s unauthorised house is famous (or infamous, depending upon one’s point of view). The very abridged version of the very lengthy saga to date is that, in or around September 2000, Mr Fidler began building the house in the Green Belt in a clandestine fashion, deliberately deceiving the Council as to the development, by using a shield of straw bales around the construction and tarpaulins or plastic sheeting over the top to hide its presence. Mr Fidler and his family moved into the house in October 2001. The straw bales were removed in July 2006, revealing the house as built. It is a large four-bedroom house, incorporating castle-like towers and a mock Tudor facade. On 16 February 2007, the Council issued an enforcement notice requiring Mr Fidler to demolish the house. Mr Fidler claimed that the development was immune from enforcement action, because he had built it more than four years before. So began a very lengthy series of appeals and applications, culminating in the Court of Appeal’s 1 September 2011 decision in favour of the Council ending one aspect of the litigation. Mr Fidler then had one year within which to demolish the house, but he did not do so. Various subsequent applications culminated in today’s High Court hearing.
Mr Justice Warby today granted the Council’s application for an injunction order under section 187B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, with an order for costs in favour of the Council. Mr Fidler must demolish the house within 90 days, as well as comply with the requirements of a series of other related enforcement notices, subject to the decision on his only outstanding planning appeal.
Stephen Whale of Landmark Chambers successfully represented Reigate & Banstead Borough Council in the High Court today. Several other members of chambers have successfully represented the Council at other important stages along the way.