Battle for 'UK's biggest man cave' has cost £78k so far while council keeps schtum over demolition price as 'bulldozers move in'

The decade-long planning wrangle which has led to plans to demolish "Britain’s biggest man cave" have cost more than £78,000 in legal fees. Forest of Dean District Council secured on Friday (May 31) the 10,000 sqft leisure complex which was built by Graham Wildin in Meendhurst Road, Cinderford.

The building, which has a bowling alley, casino and a cinema at the back of his home, was built without planning permission in 2014. Since then, the council has been in a lengthy process trying to get the issue redressed.

And now that the council has secured the site, which has been dubbed as the UK's biggest man cave, they plan to demolish it over the next eight weeks. The council says they cannot currently disclose how much the demolition will cost - but their intention is to recover the costs from the landowner.

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They also look to recover costs by selling anything of value that they get from the building. So far, Mr Wildin still owes the local authority £48,000 in legal costs. To date, the courts have awarded the council around £78,000 in legal costs.

Of these, the authority has received around £30,000. Approximately £48,000 plus interest remains due. Cinderford County Councillor Graham Morgan (L), who remembers visiting the site as a district councillor when the planning wrangle first started, said he never thought it would reach this stage.

“It’s a turn for the books!” He said. “I didn’t think they would ever do that, to be honest.

“I went there with the late Norman Stephens from the very early beginnings with Peter Williams who was then director of planning at the council. I said to Graham Wildin, look, why didn’t you apply for planning permission?

“He said ‘well they will want what they want me to have and I want what I want'. I said 'well I can’t help you then'.

“Someone from London was telling him he didn’t need planning permission.”

Cllr Morgan said Mr Wildin was advised that he needed planning permission and officers explained why. “The area the building covers needed permission anyway because it was in a residential area,” he said.

“But he wouldn’t take any notice. I could never understand a bloke who was successful in business why he went that way. He had a lot of other things he had applied for and they gave him it.

“I can understand the district council can be challenging at times with planning but he seemed hellbent on doing it anyway. I never thought it would get to this stage. I thought someone would back down.

“I wouldn’t like to estimate how much that cost.”

A spokesperson for the council said they cannot disclose the costs associated with the demolition as they are commercially sensitive.

“We will seek to recover the costs from the landowner and also recover costs by selling anything of value recovered from the building,” they said.

A spokesperson for Mr Wildin said he was not interested in commenting.