Neighbors of a millionaire who illegally built ‘Britain’s best man cave’ have told of their relief that he is in prison.
Residents in Cinderford, Gloucestershire, added they hoped this was ‘the beginning of the end’ to the row over accountant Graham Wildin’s huge leisure complex.
The grandfather of five, 70, was jailed Friday after an eight-year battle over his massive expansion, which includes a bowling alley, mini casino, squash court and cinema.
He was told he had been incarcerated for six weeks after Judge Jarman QC ruled that Wildin’s stance showed his determination to disobey repeated orders from the Forest of Dean District Council during the planning case.
One of his neighbors has now said: ‘Hopefully this marks the beginning of justice, but the problems for the neighbors won’t go away overnight.
‘It’s the beginning of the end, but far from the end. In any case, action has been taken as it has been a very stressful time for all the neighbours.’
Prior to Wildin’s sentencing, residents said it felt like he was “doubling down” on them because of their objections to his refusal to follow the rules.
One added: ‘He’s not much loved. He upsets everyone on this road by ignoring the planning rules and then parking his collection of classic cars everywhere.
“He stands up for everyone, and for him it’s payback for all the people on this road.
‘We don’t see him often. It’s just a shame because he used to be part of the community and join us at street parties and stuff, but now he annoys everyone on the road and treats us badly.
“I don’t know how they’re going to demolish the buildings now that he’s given his houses away, but hopefully they’ll find a way.”
Wildin’s six-week jail sentence will not end the saga, as the judge told him he has 18 weeks to comply with the decommissioning order when he gets out of prison.
The judge did not accept the accountant’s claims that he had done most of the clearing work on his cavernous man cave, but could not afford to pay workers to finish it or physically complete it on his own.
Deputy Councilor Paul Hiett said: “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 consistently ignored the planning law and policies in place to protect local communities.
“The law is the law and we will not give up on Mr. Wildin’s pursuit and make sure that he follows the law in exactly the same way as everyone else…to protect local communities from behavior like we have seen in this case, we will continue to pursue those who ignore planning policies through the routes enshrined in law.”
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