A FARMER who secretly built a castle and lived in it for four years while it was concealed behind bales of straw lost a High Court bid to save it from being demolished. A judge ruled that Robert Fidler, 60, who took two years to covertly built his dream home with ramparts and cannon, was not entitled to benefit from his deception of the local planning authority. Mr Fidler, of Honeycrock Farm in Redhill, Surrey, had been hoping for another chance at securing planning consent to keep the castle. He and his wife Linda, 40, and their son Harry, eight, moved into the castle when it was complete in 2002, and for four years kept it hidden from the local planning authority behind walls made of straw bales and tarpaulin. Mr Fidler eventually took away the bales in May 2006, thinking by then his new home had become immune from planning enforcement controls as it was four years since the building works had been completed. But the council issued an enforcement notice in March 2007 requiring that it be demolished on the grounds that the building had been erected without planning permission. DM A Government planning inspector in May 2008 rejected Mr Fidlers appeal, saying the removal of the straw bale camouflage constituted part of the building works. The inspector stated the farmer could not rely on the four-year immunity period and must demolish the building. The issue before the High Court was whether the removal of the hay bales and tarpaulin was, in the eyes of the law, part of the on-going building operation. Deputy High Court judge Sir Thayne Forbes said he had to decide 'whether the inspector was right to conclude that the removal of the bales and the tarpaulin formed part of the building operation. Ruling that it did, the judge said: 'In my view, the inspectors findings of fact make it abundantly clear that the erection/removal of the straw bales was an integral - indeed an essential 'fundamentally related - part of the building operations that were intended to deceive the local planning authority and to achieve by deception lawful status for a dwelling built in breach of planning control. DM