Surrey 'hidden castle' to be rebuilt elsewhere, vows farmer

Knocked down house
Image caption Aerial pictures last week showed the majority of the house had been knocked down

A farmer told to demolish a mock Tudor castle that was built without planning permission has vowed to rebuild "the work of art" elsewhere.

Robert Fidler built the house in Salfords, in the Surrey greenbelt, in 2000 and hid it behind hay bales.

He told Mr Justice Dove at London's High Court that his "beautiful home" had now been "carefully dismantled".

"Hopefully, it will be rebuilt on another site with full planning permission," he said.

At a previous hearing, Mr Fidler, 66, had been told to tear down his home by 6 June or face jail.

Image copyright SWNS
Image caption Demolition began in March following a court order

On Monday, Stephen Whale, counsel for Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, told the judge that Mr Fidler had made "very good progress in terms of complying with the requirements of the enforcement notices", but that he had not "fully complied with the requirements".

The house had been "very largely" demolished, he said, but there was "still more to be done", including restoring the land to its former agricultural use.

He said the "technical legal position" was that Mr Fidler remained in contempt of court, but the parties had agreed for the matter to be adjourned for a month to give him "an opportunity completely to comply".

Image caption Mr Fidler has another month in which to remove his patio and garden and return the land to agricultural use

Representing himself, Mr Fidler insisted: "I broke no law. I was looking after my family. I acted in good faith. I am a law-abiding citizen."

He described the four bedroom castle as a "work of art built lawfully", but said he would "fully comply" with the council enforcement notices.

Mr Justice Dove adjourned the case until 4 July, but said he hoped it would not be necessary for it to return to court.

Mr Fidler told him: "I assure you we will not have to come back."

At the end of the hearing, he said to the judge: "When I rebuild my house, I want you to come and see it."

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