Land Use

Straw Bale Construction Camo

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An English farmer tries to avoid planning controls by concealing a mock-Tudor castle in a 40-foot haystack:

Once it was finished, he and his family moved in and lived there for four years before finally revealing the development—complete with battlements and cannons—in August 2006….

Problems began last April when Mr Fidler, thinking he had beaten the planning system, applied for a certificate of lawfulness which is given if a property is erected but nobody objects to it after four years.

But Reigate and Banstead Council says the four-year period after which the building would be allowed to stay is void—because nobody had been given a chance to see it.

The matter will now be decided in February by the council's planning inspector, who could give the Fidlers as little as six months to tear the castle down.

I hate to say it, but I think Castle Fidler is doomed. Enjoy the view while you can:

tudorcastle

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  1. Whoa, way cool. But I think they’re pretty dim, thinking they could thwart the planning Council on a technicality. They went through way too much expense and effort, all wasted now. Such a pity, looks like a great house.

  2. that’s a pretty nice looking joint.

  3. God forbid anybody be allowed to build and live in a house without written permission from the government.

  4. From the article, the neighbors’ response:

    “Everyone else has to abide by planning laws, so why shouldn’t they?”

    Translated:

    “If I’m going to be oppressed, that oppression had better be uniform! I’d better have a chance to have a hand in it from time to time, too!”

    I cite this as the exemplar of the most common character weakness threatening liberty today.

  5. One day, lad, all this will be yours.
    What, the curtains?

  6. “I hate to say it, but I think Castle Fidler is doomed. Enjoy the view while you can:”
    Not if the bureaucrats can’t cross the moat!

  7. Um, so no one objects to a 40-foot haystack for four years, but a nice look castle-house is cause for immediate action? Could he put the haystack back up and solve all the problems?

    I welcome all immigrants from Soviet Europe to America. Come to us and brain-drain the bureaucratic shitholes the weak and venal among you have built. We’ll reclaim the land in a few decades when authoritarian sanctimony mutates into a fatal disease.

    P.S. Bring hot chicks and your native cuisines.

  8. I wouldn’t call these people “dim”, just desperate. The planning commissions in England are draconian buddy-buddy clubs. After years of expense and authorized property building the commission can still get you to tear your place down as they did to friends of my parents.

    The poor farmer made the mistake of hosting a meeting of gypsies on his farm, a group of people many xenophobic brits still feel warranted to hate.

    After hundreds of thousands of dollars and an authorized home raised to roof-level, he had to pull it all down.

  9. Funny, no one minded looking at a crummy haystack covered in an ugly blue tarp for 4 years.

    The planning committee is just looking out for us, right?

  10. Hell hath no fury like a petty bureacrat thwarted.

  11. For a magazine called “Better Homes and Gardens”, allow me to say that your homes and gardens are mediocre and your tips do not improve as much as re-arrange deck chairs on the titanic.

    Please cancel my subscription.

  12. after planners said it was “out of keeping” with the area

    So… gentrification is impossible in Britain?

  13. Apparently some beaurocrat has decided that they have exactly the right number of poor people and that if any of them were to acquire additional wealth, they would need to continue living like the poor in order to “keep up appearances.”

  14. Dude, that house is pretty cool, I want one

  15. SugarFree, thanks for the invitation, but before I flee Europe, can you arrange to get Kelo v. City of New London repealed first?

  16. Please cancel my subscription.

    Ummm, drink?

  17. “Some factual information for you. Have you any idea how much damage that bulldozer would suffer if I just let it roll straight over you?”
    “How much?” said Arthur.
    “None at all.” Said Mr. Prosser.

  18. European,

    I’m not saying we’re perfect, but we’re here if you need us.

  19. So… gentrification is impossible in Britain?

    They have to incorporate more vinyl siding in the design, I guess.

  20. Wow, that was absolutely brilliant… too bad the suits don’t agree.

    He did follow the letter of the law, though… give him credit for that. The rest is up to them, I guess.

  21. A show of symbolic digital hands please. Who would object to that house in their neighborhood? If anyone does, why? I’m curious about the mindset that considers unusual domiciles should be unlawful. I’m serious. I consider the unique a benefit to a neighborhood. Even ugly unique if it is clean and in good repair. Hot pink roof with lime green trim accents? What is the problem if your neighbor has different (IYHO, poor) taste?

    Anyone?

  22. If Sidler gets to build a castle, we’ll all build a castle. It’ll be anarchy!

  23. I’d love a house like that in my neighborhood.

  24. I like it.

    I think the idea is if you view a house as an investment or something you’re going to flip in the near future, you want it (and its neighbors) to be as bland, consistent and inoffensive as possible so it appeals to the broadest range of buyers. Sort of like fast food. This finds its ultimate form in the McMansion pods they’re still dropping around here.

  25. If the lot was big enough, the house would be fine in my neighborhood.

  26. “If I’m going to be oppressed, that oppression had better be uniform! I’d better have a chance to have a hand in it from time to time, too!”

    There are multiple jokes on this theme from former Soviet Bloc nations. My favorite is from Judge Alex Kozinski, who I believe emmigrated from Romania:

    A man finds a magic lamp buried in his garden, and of course as soon as he begins to rub off the dirt a genie pops out. “I will grant one wish,” says the genie, “but whatever you wish for, your neighbor gets double.” So the man asks the genie to remove one of his kidneys.

    With a sense of humor like that, it doesn’t surprise me how the Romanians dealt with Ceausescu.

    1. Bullshit that Kozinski is a Romanian name. You idiot have no clue what are you talking about. … but just talk for the sake of talking……
      besides… what does it have to do this issue regarding a poor lower than middle class guy to do with Ceausescu… I have no clue…..and neither do you…..
      Better watch your poor diet of hamurgers and fries….because is affecting your brain…..

  27. J sub D,

    I agree. My current street (Ive lived there for nearly 4 months) ranges from over 50 years old houses to 7 years old (mine). Wide range in sizes and styles. We have some shotgun homes and one house spread over 3 lots. Plus we have some new garden homes going in where a farm used to be. They started construction last month (in answer to the obvious question: I dont know. Maybe they think the housing bust will have turned by the time they finish them? Builders build, thats what they do.).

  28. Builders build, thats what they do.

    They can’t help themselves. It’s a beaver gene or something. We should all be grateful.

  29. This guy obviously doesn’t understand the rules of the game; instead of hiding the thing behind a haystack, he should have made a contribution to the Labor Party sufficient to get him a Knighthood. Knights need castles to live in, don’t they?

  30. The matter will now be decided in February by the council’s planning inspector

    This is the line in the article I don’t understand.

    Are you telling me that if a property owner in Britain complies with the letter of the law, the inspector gets to decide if the law didn’t really mean what it says?

    Not a court?

  31. Sugarfree,

    “not perfect” is putting it nicely.

    Your war on drugs and the accompanying police state, your military adventurism and the never-ending growth of jingoism are the very envy of Brussels. If you don’t believe it, look at the “common foreign and security policy” plans.

    Also, we’re not quite as fucked regarding debt as you are. Not that that’s gonna matter much when the Dollar collapse pulls us all down.

    And then the solution will be more government, and the cause will have been “capitalism”. We’re all living in interesting times, both sides of the Atlantic; no sense in splitting hairs who is half a percent less fucked.

  32. Me likee the house. It would look a little strange in the Texas brush country where I live, but hey, whatever, dude.

    In my old neighborhood in Dallas, I might have had a problem with it unless they had 3 or 4 lots to put it on, just because it would have been massively out of scale otherwise.

    I wonder just what zoning restrictions it allegedly violates? (And no, I didn’t RTFA).

  33. So in Britain a man’s home is no longer his castle?

  34. In this case, a man’s castle soon will not be his home.

  35. Bernd,

    We’ll try and get that sense of humor shipment out to you right away.

  36. If Sidler gets to build a castle, we’ll all build a castle. It’ll be anarchy!

    I thought that was feudalism.

  37. If Sidler gets to build a castle, we’ll all build a castle. It’ll be anarchy!

    Next thing you know, there will be jousting, and wenching, and mead halls, and dogs at the table! Well, not on my watch, Boyo!

  38. Hey, who’s that guy on the ramparts?

    I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough whopper! I fart in your general direction! You mother was a hamster and your father smelt of eldeberries.

  39. I wonder just what zoning restrictions it allegedly violates? (And no, I didn’t RTFA).

    The article doesn’t say. As far as I can tell, the council is pissed because he didn’t ask “Mother may I” before he built, so they’ll find some excuse to tear it down.

  40. From the pictures that looks like a great house. I would not object to a house like that anywhere near me.

    If Sidler gets to build a castle, we’ll all build a castle. It’ll be anarchy!

    I thought that was feudalism.

    Fuedalism means your rights come from someone above you in a contract of mutual obligation. The government here is behaving like property owners are vassals subject to the lord’s approval for how to use a land grant.

    Feudalism is a social system, not a period of military practice.

  41. So no one seemed to mind a huge pile of hay and tarp, but they’re offended by that house? Huh?

  42. Reading the linked Daily Mail article made me sad. I think the house is beautiful. When making beautiful buildings is outlawed, something is wrong. When creative, productive people have to resort to desparate and elaborate ploys in order to be creative and productive, something is wrong.

    Reading the comments at the Daily Mail made me sadder. Too many English sheep, it seems, are only willing to stand up and fight when one of their gets too uppity and needs to be beat down.

    Can we go ahead and change the name of modern England to Pussyland and be done with it? I liked the Olde England and don’t want to see its name sullied by the modern incarnation.

  43. Wow, it’s real life The Fountainhead, but with less rape.

    Anyone else find it depressing how many of the comments seem to support the council?

  44. “Too many English sheep, it seems, are only willing to stand up and fight when one of their gets too uppity and needs to be beat down.”

    Fine, but over any number of issues you can substitute “American” for “English” in the above sentence and it will still hold true.

  45. And then the solution will be more government, and the cause will have been “capitalism”. We’re all living in interesting times, both sides of the Atlantic; no sense in splitting hairs who is half a percent less fucked.

    QFT! I still refer to Englan as the Mother Country. Britain and the US, two nations, forever divided by a common language. 😉

  46. SugarFree,

    Awesome! I never was a good fiddler anyway, so at least I’ll laugh while Rome burns.

  47. ‘To the parapets with arms!’ Oops, guv’nuh, our arms were confiscated years ago…

  48. Bernd,

    You’re from Montreal anyway. You’re in the New World now! Live a little!

  49. When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. The fourth one stayed up, but the Reigate and Banstead Council inspector ordered it to be torn down. Bloody peasant.

  50. I think the local council should tear this manor house down. Local governments have to maintain strict zoning laws, or else every last bit of farmland in Southern England is going to be converted into suburban sprawl. Sure farmland is worth about 1/10th of residental land, but the farmer is compensated with cheaper rates, tax breaks and other subsidies. Call me an elitist, but I agree that the English need to preserve as much remaining farmland and parkland as reasonably possible.

  51. after planners said it was “out of keeping” with the area

    Yes, a castle, out of keeping with England.

  52. …complete with battlements and cannons…

    And when the bulldozers come (surely accompanied by a gaggle of bureaucrats), perhaps they should consider putting these to good use.

    JMJ

  53. CSS —

    So your plan involves supporting an otherwise uncompetitive farm business with the money of taxpayers who have to struggle to find affordable housing because all the available land is being preserved in its current, obsolete, usage?

    And then those farmers in Africa continue to struggle to find markets for their production in overflooded 1st-world markets…

    I have nothing per se against preserving natural land, but I don’t have much sympathy for preserving farmland when there are tons of people who’d pay a lot more to put it to a different use.

  54. Sure farmland is worth about 1/10th of residental land, but the farmer is compensated with cheaper rates, tax breaks and other subsidies.

    But he’s not allowed to build a pretty house on it. He can, however, move into some subsidized council-house hellhole.

  55. Ventifact@2:44pm,

    True, but I fail to see how that improves the joke.

  56. You can see there are plenty of large homes on the same road.

  57. Sorry, “see” is a link I can barely see…

    Still, it is a link.

    To a map of the land in question.

    Sorry, no castle, and no tarp.

  58. Laws are made to be followed to the letter, if it is to your advantage. I hope he wins, since it was occupied for 4 years with nary a peep, etc.

    Hey, it’s the law.

  59. Here is their address, in case you were wondering.

    Honeycrock Farm Axes La, Redhill, RH1 5QL

  60. SugarFree,

    I’m in Montreal, not from. And this is basically Europe in bureaucracy and taxes, but you can’t get good cheese for a decent price. Worst of all worlds!

    And you wonder why I’m cranky, Aspartameboy.

  61. Maurkov —

    I guess it ruins the joke. Castles everywhere ? fuedalism. That’s all I’m saying.

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