Fantasy pirate island built on Cambridge estate saved from destruction after finally winning planning permission

Rishma Dosani
Fantasy land: 'Challis Island', which has its own waterfall, guest house, and pub.(Rex)

A wealthy landowner who spent millions building his own pirate island, only to be told it could be bulldozed, has finally been granted planning permission.

James Challis, 29, heir to a quarrying and haulage fortune, created 60-acre 'Challis Island' on a family-owned Cambridgeshire estate.

The fantasy village, which resembles a set from Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean, comes complete with a guest house, working pub, boat dock and waterfall.

According to family sources, Mr Challis built the island as a tribute to his late grandfather and family business founder John Dickerson, who bought the site in the 1970s.

But he faced a battle to get it approved by South Cambridgeside District Council after neglecting to get planning permission.

A retrospective application was submitted but then withdrawn and a new application was submitted with a bigger area of land containing trees and hedges to wall it off.

Luckily for Mr Challis the new application was widely supported allowing him to keep his home.

Councillor Nick Wright, the council's cabinet member for planning and economic development, said: 'This has been a very interesting and unique application as it is not often you have someone build a pirate island - let alone this far from the sea.'

Mr Dickerson founded a haulage firm which recently sold for several million pounds.

He had originally bought the site, which boasts the impressive island, thirty years ago to extract sand and gravel, and lived on a boathouse on the lake.

He also added an office and stables before dying suddenly in 1999.

Mr Challis then adopted the site before setting about recreating his fantasy on the deserted land.

He employed Master Wish Makers - specialists in making the eccentric dreams of the rich come true - who helped him transform the site into a fantastical pirate island.

The site now boasts five 18th century, Georgian-style buildings set among decorative shrubbery and flowing waterfalls.

A spokesman from Master Wish Makers said: 'We're over the moon and we were always sure it was going to happen.


[The house that £150 built: Farmer builds one-bedroom home from mud, clay, and materials found in a skip - all without a single power tool]

'We were confident about it, but we're still very happy it's all gone through as it took us around 14 months to do.'

The pirate island also includes a fully-working one-and-a-half-a-storey pub, called The Black Dubloon, a guest house in the style of a military commander's office, called Coffer's Cabin, a beach hut named Lubber's Locker and a sun deck.

All of the island's buildings were made from wooden oak and Douglas fir frames, with roofs made from cedar tiles or thatch for authenticity.