'I'm totally stressed and just gobsmacked': Man refuses to demolish shed and toilet he built in Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty sparking almighty row with council

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  • Reading time:5 min(s) read

  • Stephen Windsor built on the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty   

A landowner has vowed to fight the council ‘all the way’ after being ordered to demolish a shed and toilet he built on protected land. 

Stephen Windsor built the shed in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Quarry Woods, Box, Wiltshire, after purchasing land in 2021.

The 64-year-old had planned to turn the area into an accessible ‘safe haven’ for disabled people.

The first phase of the development included a tool shed, equipped with a composting toilet, and a ‘nursery for trees’.

However, the area has been afforded a high level of environmental protection as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to a rare bat population – and Mr Windsor did not secure planning permission for the development.

Stephen Windsor built the shed (pictured) in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Quarry Woods, Wiltshire, after purchasing land in 2021

Stephen Windsor built the shed (pictured) in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Quarry Woods, Wiltshire, after purchasing land in 2021

Pictures of the development show logs placed around what appears to be a table or a fire

Pictures of the development show logs placed around what appears to be a table or a fire

A strange sign is pictured attached to a tree reading: 'Danger Keep out. protected by witchcraft'

A strange sign is pictured attached to a tree reading: ‘Danger Keep out. protected by witchcraft’

Wiltshire Council ordered Mr Windsor to demolish the buildings as they were in the protected site but he has not done so.

Concerns have also been raised by a local community group over the use of the site – with worries people may be living there, or move onto the site as it develops. 

Pictures of the development show logs placed around what appears to be a table or a fire, a half-built shed and ramps, as well as a blue tent.

There is also a free-standing gate, and strange signs saying ‘Alarm mines, keep out’ and ‘Danger keep out, protected by witchcraft’. 

At Salisbury Magistrates’ Court on February 16, Mr Windsor, of Johns Road in Bathwick, was found guilty of failing to comply with an enforcement notice – which is a document signalling a breach of planning control.

READ MORE: Billionaire hotel owner ordered to tear down his five star hotel that hosted the post-Brexit Windsor agreement after building an extra wing and extending into the eaves without planning permission 

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On July 28, he lost an appeal at the crown court and was also ordered to pay the council’s costs of £1,700.

Despite these setbacks, Mr Windsor is adamant he will not allow the buildings to be demolished and says he will ‘exhaust every avenue’ to protect his work.

He said: ‘We’re appealing and will take this all the way, I’m not going to stop because the council can’t get away with this.

‘It’s going to be a beautiful thing and it is in keeping with the woodland, there’s no water, electricity or gas and you can’t see it from more than 20 metres away.

‘I think it’s disgusting that the council would do this, I’m totally stressed all the time over this and just gobsmacked.’

Mr Windsor believes he does not require planning permission as the structure is moveable and not attached to the ground.

The council have now applied for an injunction from the High Court to push through the destruction of the shed.

Wiltshire Council ordered Mr Windsor to demolish the buildings as they were in the protected site but he has not done so

Wiltshire Council ordered Mr Windsor to demolish the buildings as they were in the protected site but he has not done so

A picture shows a sign on one of the trees in the development, saying 'Alarm mines, keep out'

A picture shows a sign on one of the trees in the development, saying ‘Alarm mines, keep out’

There is also a free-standing gate in the development, which doesn't appear to open onto anything yet

There is also a free-standing gate in the development, which doesn’t appear to open onto anything yet

A blue tent is also pictured inside the area of woodland - which Mr Windsor purchased in 2021

A blue tent is also pictured inside the area of woodland – which Mr Windsor purchased in 2021

Councillor Nick Botterill, cabinet member for development management, said: We are passionate about protecting Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty that fall within Wiltshire and our enforcement officers will take any action necessary to protect them.

‘At this time Mr Windsor has still not complied with the enforcement notice and has in fact carried out further unlawful development on the site.

‘As a result, an application for a High Court Injunction has been made, which if successful, will order the defendant to demolish the two buildings and remove the material.’

Friends of Quarry Woods, a community group set up to preserve the nature site, supports the council’s intervention.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: ‘We are pleased to see that Wiltshire County Council are taking the strong legal protections of this site seriously, and hope they continue to do so for other sites across the county.

‘The woods are hugely important for wildlife (including rare and protected bats) and for our community’s wellbeing.

‘We hope they will be safeguarded and appropriately managed for future generations.’




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