Make Sure you have Planning Consent Before Starting to Build Your Dream Home

Robert Fidler built his castle complete with turrets, but without any planning, as he was relying on the fact that enforcement for the lack of planning for a residential dwelling cannot take place four years after completion.

Mr Fidler had erected his castle under the cover of straw bales and tarpaulins, once it was completed he kept the castle hidden for over four years, only then did he remove the straw bales and tarpaulins in order to reveal his masterwork to the world!

Unfortunately for Mr Fidler the Planning Authority were  unhappy with his construction and took enforcement action, which was upheld by the Government planning inspector and further upheld by the High Court. 

Mr Fidler had been relying on a technicality that would have allowed his deceit to be successful however blatant.  The High Court upheld the fact that the removal of the straw bales and the tarpaulins constituted building operations, and therefore the building works had not been completed until the removal of these materials, which meant four years had not lapsed.  Sadly for Mr Fidler he will have to demolish his castle.

The parallel to Mr Fidler’s case is Alan Beesley, who managed to erect a residential dwelling inside a barn.  Mr Beesley obtained planning permission for a hay barn but proceeded to construct a building which was fitted out internally as a dwelling.  He then proceeded to live in the dwelling for a period exceeding four years. 

The building externally appeared to be a barn, although Mr Beesley made it clear his intention was to erect this dwelling from the outset, unlike Mr Fidler this deliberate deceit was successful. The Local Authority was unable to take enforcement action and the Court held that Mr Beesley was entitled to a certificate of lawfulness of existing use.

Clearly, reading the two stories above, sound planning advice is paramount if you are considering building a property.  If you have any planning issues, or would like to ask any questions regarding planning proposals, contact Praveen Chaudhari on 01952 211004 or Rebecca Simcock on 01743 280253 or email or