A farmer has defied a government order to demolish the £1MILLION “castle” he secretly built after disguising it behind hay bales – by claiming to have SOLD it.
Robert Fidler, 66, lost a nine-year legal battle to save his mock-Tudor dream home, complete with cannons and battlements, and was told to destroy it by Wednesday.
But the deadline has passed with the pile still standing and Robert yesterday said the decision was out of his hands because he sold the property a week earlier on June 15.
He has refused to identify the new owner – but said they were allowing him and his wife and son to continue living at the property at Honeycrock Farm, in Salfords, Surrey.
Rebellious Robert, who also has over 100 cattle, said: “I have sold it and all the time the new owner allows me to remain I will stay living here.
“I know it was meant to come down sometime this week, I don’t know when. But I never had the intention of pulling it down. I don’t think I have broken any laws.
“I’ve had my family home here for 40 years and they are saying demolish it – it’s wrong.
“If someone said to Picasso, ‘Rip up your best oil painting’ he wouldn’t be able to do it. And neither can I. It’s beautiful and I haven’t’ broken any laws.”
Robert, who lives with wife Linda, 45, and son Harry, 14, started building the mock castle in 2002 but kept it hidden from neighbours behind hay bales and tarpaulin until unveiling it in 006.
He hoped that by concealing the four-bedroom home built on Green Belt land he would exploit a loophole that meant if a construction last four years uncontested, authorities could not touch it.
But Reigate and Banstead Borough Council refused to grant retrospective permission and he has since spent tens of thousands of pounds on numerous court hearings.
The Planning Inspectorate dismissed his appeals but last November he was granted temporary planning permission for a maximum of three years.
Robert believed he had won his battle but the permission was withdrawn by former Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles who told him to tear it down.
Robert, who has five children from a previous marriage and has farmed the land there for 40 years, said: “It’s like going into a boxing ring with someone and when you start to when they pull out a gun and shoot you – you can’t win.
“But it’s in somebody else’s hands now. They are adamant the property is there lawfully and they won’t demolish it.
“They have written to me and said ‘Don’t touch it, I will sue if you demolish it’.”
Robert refused to reveal who he sold the home to and for how much but claimed the buyer was someone he did not know prior to his legal battle.
The local authority has yet to respond to a request for comment.