Millionaire creates ‘fortress’ in bid to block destruction of UK’s best cave

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Wealthy Graham Wildin is now believed to have bought land and nearby properties for his family to save the leisure complex at the back of his home in Gloucestershire.

Graham Wildin, from the Forest of Dean, outside his house where he has built a ‘man cave’ in the back garden

A millionaire who illegally built ‘Britain’s Best Man’s Cellar’ has created a ‘fortress’ in a bid to stop council bulldozers – buying surrounding properties for his family.

Wealthy Graham Wildin, 69, is trying to save the 10,000 square foot leisure complex at the back of his home in Cinderford, Gloucestershire.

After an eight-year battle, he was ordered by the court to destroy the complex which includes a cinema, squash court and bowling alley.

The deadline for taking him down to avoid jail time for contempt of court was passed nearly a month ago, but the structure remains in place.

And after initially moving his collection of classic cars to the street, which would have caused ‘parking chaos’, he is now said to have bought land and neighboring properties for his family – to block any attempt by the council to have them removed of strength.







The complex includes a cinema, squash court and bowling alley
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Sources say land records now show the property to the front and side was transferred or sold to a company owned by other members of Wildin’s family.

It is understood that relatives or neighbors should now allow bulldozers to pass through their land to reach Wildin’s man cave in order to forcibly demolish it.

Wildin did not respond to requests for comment – but neighbors were split over his latest tactic – with some saying he had ‘digged his own grave’ as the council could seek a new court order to access it – while d Others praised his “ingenuity”.







It is understood that relatives or neighbors should now allow bulldozers to pass on their land
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A neighbour, who praised the plan, said: “Council cannot overturn it because legally they must have permission from the land owner to cross the land to get to the building.

“He gave ownership of this land to his children, who are not going to grant that permission. They can’t force them. Love it or hate it, that’s smart.”

But another neighbor said they thought it wouldn’t end well for him.







Wildin first sparked outrage among his neighbors when it was later discovered he had carried out the work without the required planning permission in 2014.
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They added: ‘He is building his oversized ‘man cave’, without planning permission and has spent around eight years of his life, fighting the council and losing at every turn.

“He now has a suspended sentence, with a prison sentence, if he does not comply with the court order, and now that he has not complied with those orders, he is now guilty of contempt of court.

“He believes he has now thwarted the authorities by surrounding his property with land belonging to his family members so that the council cannot go to the man cave to demolish it.







The house is in Cinderford, Gloucestershire
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“All the council has to do is apply for a court order to access neighboring land and they will then have access to the ‘man cave’ to demolish it.

“He will foot the bill for all of this, his ‘man cave’ will be gone and he will be in jail.”

Another neighbor added: ‘He is digging his own grave and the council will bury him.’

Wildin initially sparked outrage from his neighbors when it was later discovered he had carried out the work without the required planning permission in 2014.

A lengthy legal battle followed, ending with a High Court judge issuing an injunction in 2018 and Wildin was initially given until the end of April 2020 to remove the 10,000 square foot complex.

This ordered Wildin to demolish the sports center as it had a serious impact on his neighbours.







A lengthy legal battle followed and ended with a High Court judge issuing an injunction in 2018
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David Hedges SWNS.comSWNS.com)


But after failing to carry out court orders, he was found in contempt of court.

Judge Jarman handed down a six-week custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months in November last year and a new deadline was set for March 10 this year.

Wildin has now reached the deadline to comply with the order to complete the required work or face jail time if he fails to do so.







Aerial view of the vast ‘man cave’ built by Graham in his back garden
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Francis Hawkins / SWNS.com)


During the judgment, Lady Justice Laing also found that the council had no way of proving whether Mr Wildin could afford to demolish the building, as he never disclosed all of his assets.

But she described him as “entirely the author of his own misfortune” and said there were “reasonable grounds” to believe he was a very wealthy man”.

Forest of Dean District Council was also awarded substantial costs in connection with the hearing.







Forest of Dean District Council was also awarded substantial costs in connection with the hearing.
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Council has been contacted for comment.

But speaking after an earlier hearing, Cllr Tim Gwilliam said the whole process had been completely avoidable.

He said: “As a council, it is important to ensure that development proposals improve the environments in which they live, while protecting the community.

“Every year, hundreds of people come to the council for planning advice and follow it. This was not the case in Mr. Wildin’s case.”

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