Millionaire uses ‘fortress’ to stop council demolishing ‘man cave’

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Although Graham Wildin’s leisure centre building with bowling alley, cinema and mini casino was built without planning permission, land registry records show property to the front and side has been transferred or sold to a company owned by other family members, including his children. It means relatives or neighbours would have to give permission for the bulldozers to pass over their land to reach Mr Wildin’s pride and joy, which has been the centre of a lengthy and complicated legal battle since 2014.

The accountant had variously argued the decision was wrong or that he could not afford to do it.

After reaching the end of the legal road by losing a Court of Appeal case, Mr Wildin was given a deadline of March 10 2022, to obey the order to empty the building in Cinderford, Gloucestershire, or go to jail for six weeks.

This includes removing all sports equipment, the cinema, bowling alley, all doors, lighting, radiators, fixtures, fittings, sanitary ware and furniture.

The dad was also told to disconnect the electricity and water supplies within 18 weeks, reports Gloucestershire Live.

But Forest of Dean District Council has not sent in the bulldozers and everything has gone quiet since. It is not known if Mr Wildin has complied by removing the interior.

Observers believe an enforced demolition would be difficult because over the years the parcel of land has been divided into three.

The illegal leisure centre, dubbed “Britain’s best man cave”, is on land which still belongs to Mr Wildin.

Mr Wildin’s former house, Altea, and stands to the side of the disputed leisure centre (sitting above Paradise in the aerial view). It has a large water feature, white garage and outbuildings standing in the way of the leisure centre access and both the council and neighbours say a swimming pool is also being built.

Altea has also been transferred to Mr Wildin’s old business Expresser Ltd in recent years. According to the Land Registry documents it was sold on June 5, 2020, for £226,566.

The company describes the nature of his business as “Other letting and operating of own or leased real estate” and Mr Wildin was on the board of Expresser Ltd until 2004.

Expresser Ltd has been owned by financial advisor son Philip Wildin, of Cinderford, accountant daughters Deborah Trigg, of Drybrook, and Jacqueline Mannion, from Gloucester, since around a decade before the planning row erupted.

All three are listed on the website as working with their father at the family accountancy business in nearby Lydney.

One next-door neighbour who lives on the tiny bungalow next to Paradise said he would not let the council bulldozers cross his land to reach the leisure centre. The neighbour said he had years of noise and disruption when it was erected and does not want the same if it is knocked down.

Although he understands the council position, he says Mr Wildin is now quiet and the last thing he wants is to have wrecking balls within yards of his home disturbing his peace and quiet.

Neighbours are reluctant to comment publicly on the row and both the Wildin family and the Forest of Dean District Council did not respond to requests for comment.

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