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Judge adjourns contempt of court proceedings in 'straw bales' house case

A High Court judge has adjourned contempt of court proceedings in the long-running litigation over the construction of a house behind straw bales, after the man who built the home failed to attend the hearing.

Reigate & Banstead Borough Council had lodged a claim for contempt of court against Robert Fidler after he failed to comply with outstanding enforcement notices and an injunction order in effect as a result of the Communities Secretary’s decision effectively requiring demolition of the unauthorised house and associated structures at Honeycrock Farm in Salfords.

Fidler built the house, which has a mock Tudor façade and castellated towers, behind straw bales on Green Belt land at the farm in 2000.

The bales were removed in 2006. The following year Reigate & Banstead issued an enforcement notice in relation to the house and other structures, and the two parties have been involved in extensive planning appeals, inquiries and litigation ever since.

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The High Court was due to hear the council’s claim and Fidler’s application for a variation to the injunction order today (22 October).

With Fidler failing to attend court, however, the judge adjourned the hearing until 2 pm on 2 November to enable him to be present.

A spokesperson for Reigate & Banstead said: 

“We accept the Court’s decision to adjourn the hearing to allow for Mr Fidler to be present and due process to be followed. 

“The judge was satisfied that Mr Fidler knew about today’s proceedings because he was twice served with court papers and has himself made an application that was due to be heard today, but he has failed to attend.


Due to the serious consequences of these proceedings the judge has afforded Mr Fidler a final opportunity to attend court. 

A warrant has been issued by the judge to apprehend Mr Fidler to ensure he is present on 2 November.”

The spokesperson said the council had been awarded costs in full.

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