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Neighbours relieved after millionaire jailed for refusing to tear down ‘Britain’s best man cave’

Neighbours of a millionaire who illegally built ‘Britain’s best man cave’ have said it is ‘the beginning of the end’ after the homeowner was jailed for refusing to tear it down.

Graham Wildin, 70, will spend six weeks behind bars for not demolishing his 10,000ft extension, which includes a cinema, squash court, casino and bowling alley. 

The accountant from Cinderford, Gloucestershire, was previously handed a six week sentence, suspended for twelve months, in June 2021, on the condition that the building be permanently stripped and decommissioned within 18 weeks.

After a lengthy appeal process, Wildin still failed to comply with the court order to tear down the illegal construction and was handed the six-week prison sentence at Cardiff High Court on Friday.

For the past six months, neighbours have also been outraged at not being able to park their cars in the street after Wildin decided to park his collection of classic cars outside his home because of the council’s order to soft strip the leisure complex.

Bin lorries and ambulances could not drive down the road and residents were often unable to drive to work due to their cars being blocked in by Wildin’s vehicles.

Now that Wildin has been jailed, neighbours are pleased to see that justice has been served and pray it is the beginning of the end of trouble from the millionaire.

One said: ‘This hopefully marks the start of justice being done but the problems for the neighbours aren’t going to end overnight.

‘It is the beginning of the end but nowhere near the end. At least some action has been taken as it has been a very stressful time for all the neighbours.’

 Accountant Graham Wildin (pictured), 70, was yesterday sent to prison for six weeks for contempt of court after refusing to demolish the private leisure complex with a cinema, gym, casino (pictured), bar and bowling alley at his home in Cinderford, Gloucestershire

Wildin was initially given until the end of April 2020 to remove the 'man cave', which includes a bowling alley (pictured)

Wildin was initially given until the end of April 2020 to remove the ‘man cave’, which includes a bowling alley (pictured)

The millionaire accountant keeps his classic car collection parked on the road much to the annoyance of neighbours

The millionaire accountant keeps his classic car collection parked on the road much to the annoyance of neighbours

Bin lorries and ambulances could often not drive down the road Wildin's vehicles

Bin lorries and ambulances could often not drive down the road Wildin’s vehicles

Residents were often unable to drive to work due to their cars being blocked in by the classic cars

Residents were often unable to drive to work due to their cars being blocked in by the classic cars

One neighbour who lives on the road said yesterday: 'He's not very well liked. He's upset everybody on this road by flouting planning rules and then parking his collection of classic cars everywhere'

One neighbour who lives on the road said yesterday: ‘He’s not very well liked. He’s upset everybody on this road by flouting planning rules and then parking his collection of classic cars everywhere’ 

In June 2021, Wildin was found in contempt of court for non-compliance with the injunction which he appealed

 In June 2021, Wildin was found in contempt of court for non-compliance with the injunction which he appealed

The eight year battle started after the Forest of Dean District Council brought a case against him over his ‘man cave’, which he built without planning permission in 2014.

In November 2018 the council obtained an injunction against Wildin and he was ordered to demolish it.

He was originally given until 25 April 2020 to tear down the building but he defied the order and kept it up.

MailOnline reported in April that relatives or neighbours would now have to give permission for the bulldozers to pass over their land to reach Wildin’s mancave to forcibly take it down.

Neighbours on Meendhurst Road said in April it feels like Wildin ‘doubled down’ on them over their objections to his refusal to follow the rules.

A neighbour who lives on the road said at the time: ‘He’s not very well liked.

‘He’s upset everybody on this road by flouting planning rules and then parking his collection of classic cars everywhere.

‘He’s had a swimming pool built at the back, finished not long ago. That was ongoing for about four or five months. He gets up everybody’s back, and to him it’s payback time for all the people on this road.

‘He’s even had his gates repaired to keep everyone away from his house. There’s always something going on up there, they started on the swimming pool which went in late last year.

‘We don’t see him very often. It’s just a shame because he used to be part of the community and would join us in street parties and stuff, but now he’s just annoyed everyone on the road and treats us badly.

‘I don’t know how they’re going to knock down the buildings now though he’s given away his houses, but hopefully they will find a way.’

After the eight year legal battle, the final deadline to pull down the man cave (pictured from above) to avoid a jail sentence for contempt of court over ignoring the order passed without any action being taken in March

After the eight year legal battle, the final deadline to pull down the man cave (pictured from above) to avoid a jail sentence for contempt of court over ignoring the order passed without any action being taken in March

'He's not very well liked,' a neighbour of Wildin's said in April this year. Pictured: The front of Wildin's home

‘He’s not very well liked,’ a neighbour of Wildin’s said in April this year. Pictured: The front of Wildin’s home

'In what should have been a completely avoidable situation, Mr Wildin has continually ignored planning law and policies that are there to protect local communities,' said Cllr Paul Hiett, Deputy Leader of Forest of Dean Council

‘In what should have been a completely avoidable situation, Mr Wildin has continually ignored planning law and policies that are there to protect local communities,’ said Cllr Paul Hiett, Deputy Leader of Forest of Dean Council

'The law is the law and we won't give up pursuing Mr Wildin and ensuring that he complies with the legislation in exactly the same way as everyone else,' Cllr Hiett added. Pictured: The gym in Wilden's private leisure complex

 ‘The law is the law and we won’t give up pursuing Mr Wildin and ensuring that he complies with the legislation in exactly the same way as everyone else,’ Cllr Hiett added. Pictured: The gym in Wilden’s private leisure complex

Cllr Paul Hiett, Deputy Leader of Forest of Dean Council, said after Mr Wildin had been jailed yesterday ‘The enforcement case against Mr Wildin has been a long and complex road.

‘In what should have been a completely avoidable situation, Mr Wildin has continually ignored planning law and policies that are there to protect local communities.

‘The law is the law and we won’t give up pursuing Mr Wildin and ensuring that he complies with the legislation in exactly the same way as everyone else.

‘As a Council it is important to ensure that development proposals improve the environments in which they exist, whilst safeguarding the community.

‘Every year, hundreds of people ask the Council for planning advice and follow it. This has not been the case in Mr Wildin’s instance.

‘I would like to, again, thank the people of the Forest for their patience and the tenacity of the Council’s staff who continue to push this case forward.

‘To protect local communities from behaviour like we’ve seen in this case, we will continue to pursue those that ignore planning policy using the routes set out in law.’

A council spokesperson added: ‘Following a series of warnings, in November 2018 the Council obtained an injunction against Mr Wildin and he had until 25th April 2020 to demolish a leisure building he built, (excluding the substantial retaining wall) in 2014 without planning permission.

‘In committal proceedings brought by Forest of Dean District Council in June 2021, Mr Wildin was found in contempt of court for non-compliance with the injunction.

‘This required Mr Wildin to soft strip and decommission services to the building, with the judge sentencing Mr Wildin to six weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months, on the condition that the building be permanently stripped and decommissioned within 18 weeks.

‘Mr Wildin subsequently appealed the decision, on the grounds that the Council gave no evidence of costs set out for the works to be completed and that 18 weeks was not an adequate time period to carry out the works.

‘The appeal was heard at the Court of Appeal in the Royal Courts of Justice in London before Lady Justice Elisabeth Laing and Lord Justice Edis on 28 September 2021.

‘Submissions were made by Mr Charles Auld for Mr Wildin and Mr Stephen Whale for the Council. Judgement was suspended and handed down on Thursday 4 November.

‘The appeal was dismissed, and Mr Wildin was given until 10 March 2022 to comply with the Order to complete the required work to avoid prison.

‘The Council has been awarded substantial costs a number of times throughout the process. Mr Wildin will still be required to remove the building once he has served his sentence.’

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