A millionaire who built “Britain’s best men’s cave” In his garden, he lost an appeal against a contempt conviction for refusing the demolition of the illegal 10,000 square foot ‘leisure complex’.  

Graham Wildin, 70, installed a bowling alley, cinema, squash courts, private casino and bar in the £200,000 extension to his home in Cinderford, Gloucestershire in 2014 – but it was later found that he had completed the construction project without the required planning permission.

The Rolls Royce-driver accountant has maintained that he didn’t need planning permission. He claimed that by digging 18ft into the hillside, he was taking advantage a legal loophole that allows him to construct the building for his family.

However, a High Court judge dismissed Mr Wildin’s claims and issued Forest of Dean District Council an Injunction directing Mr Wildin bulldoze this development. He refused to comply and was sentenced to a six-week custodial sentence, suspended for twelve months.  

After a hearing at Court of Appeal, Wildin’s appeal against the finding of contempt was denied. Wildin was allowed to comply with the orders until March 10, 2022 if he wishes to avoid jail. As part of the hearing, Forest of Dean District Council was also awarded substantial costs. 

Lady Justice Laing also concluded that the council could not prove whether Mr Wildin was able to afford to demolish this building as he has not made full disclosure of his assets.

She described him as “entirely the author his own misfortune” and said that there was a “reasonable basis” to believe he was very wealthy.

Mr Wildin has previously told a court that demolishing the ‘man cave’ would cost him a staggering £720,000 and he would be forced to lay off 40 staff.

Councillor Tim Gwilliam is Leader of the Council, and Cabinet Member For Planning. He said that the result today was the latest in a long-running case that could have been avoided. This additional court date would have been unnecessary if Wildin had followed the advice of experts and adhered to the sentencing originally given.

Graham Wildin inside the leisure centre he has built for himself and his family in his back garden

Graham Wildin in the leisure center he built for himself and his family. 

Aerial view of the vast 'man cave' built by Graham Wildin in his back garden

Aerial view from the huge’man cave’ that Graham Wildin built in his back yard 

Mr Wildin had always maintained that he did not need the permissions and that by digging 18 feet into the hillside he was taking advantage of a loophole which allows him to construct the building for use by his family. Pictured: The home cinema

Mr Wildin claimed that he didn’t need permissions. He said that he dug 18 feet into the hillside to create the building for his family. Pictured: The home theater

Pictured: The relaxation area and games room in Mr Wildin's huge 'man cave' in his home in Cinderford

Pictured: The relaxation area and games room in Mr Wildin’s huge ‘man cave’ in his home in Cinderford

Mr Wildin at the bowling alley in the enormous 'man cave' added to his home in Cinderford

Mr Wildin at the bowling alley in the enormous ‘man cave’ added to his home in Cinderford 

Pictured: The indoor table tennis and badminton court inside Mr Wildin's massive 'man cave' in Cinderford

Pictured: Mr Wildin’s huge’man cave’ in Cinderford.

Graham Wildin’s 18,000 square foot’man cave’ 

Graham Wildin’s 18,000-square-foot’man cave,’ is filled with:

  • A bowling alley 
  • A home cinema
  • Squash courts 
  • A gym
  • Private casino 
  • A bar
  • A doll’s house with three stories and 25 feet of height 

“As a Council, it is important that we ensure that the communities in which we live are improved by the development proposals. Each year, hundreds of people seek planning advice from the Council and then follow it. In the case of Mr Wildin, this has not been the situation.

“The Forest of Dean District Council would once again like to thank you for your patience as we work towards demolishing the building.

Mr Wildin’s condemned entertainment complex includes a private casino and bar, as well as a doll’s house with soft play and a doll’s home 25ft high.

Council planners claim that the bulky structure is ‘totally out-of-scale and proportion with surrounding development’.

Locals were outraged that Mr Wildin had built the leisure center by sinking it 18ft into a garden. The grandfather-of-5 claimed he believed he didn’t need permission to begin construction. 

In 2014, Mr Wildin was served with an enforcement notice from Forest of Dean District Council requiring him to bulldoze the area. He did not comply.

The council discovered that work had begun on a new swimming-pool on the site when they last visited it.

Forest of Dean District Council filed a successful contempt of Court application at the High Court Cardiff in June. It cited Mr Wildin for violating planning laws.

He was warned that if the injunction against him to demolish it was a violation of his rights, he could be found in contempt of court, imprisoned, and have his assets taken.

Cardiff High Court issued the injunction in September 2018, after the council asked the judge for support for an enforcement notice from March 2014.

Pictured: The casino at Mr Wildin's private leisure centre, which he has been ordered to tear down

Pictured: The casino at Mr Wildin’s private leisure centre which he has been ordered by the court to tear down

Pictured: Free weights and benches in the home gym in Mr Wildin's 'man cave' in his garden

Pictured: Mr Wildin’s garden’s man cave has free weights and benches

The injunction was handed out at Cardiff High Court in September 2018 when the council asked the judge to back an enforcement notice issued in March 2014

Cardiff High Court handed the injunction in September 2018. The council requested the judge to support an enforcement notice that was issued in March 2014.

Although the judge accepted that there would be adverse impacts upon Mr Wildin, he granted the injunction - adding that his circumstances did not outweigh public interest. Pictured: The development under construction

Although Mr Wildin was not in the best of health, the judge granted him an injunction. He also stated that Wildin’s circumstances were not detrimental to the public interest. Pictured: The development is under construction 

It was then that Mr Wildin told the court that an injunction would ruin him – stating that demolishing the man cave would cost him £720,000. 

The judge acknowledged that Mr Wildin would be affected, but he granted the injunction, adding that his circumstances didn’t outweigh the public interest.

The luxury complex was built by Mr Wildin in 2013. It was completed the following year.

He claimed that he had dug it 18ft into the hillside in order to create a loophole which would allow him to build the house for his family.

It is possible that demolition could take up to months. The council would need to prepare a timetable for the job.  

A spokesperson for the council said that: “In committal proceedings brought forward by Forest of Dean District Council, June 2021 His Honour Judge Jarman (QC) concluded that Mr Wildin was guilty of contempt of court for not complying with an injunction order dated 2018

“This required Mr Wildin’s soft stripping and decommissioning of the building. Mr Wildin was sentenced to six weeks imprisonment with a 12-month suspension, and the judge ordered that the building be permanently decommissioned and removed within 18 weeks.

“Mr Wildin appealed the decision, claiming that the Council had not provided any evidence of the costs for the works and that 18 weeks was too short a time frame to complete the work.

Mr Wildin began building the luxury complex in 2013 and finished it the following year. It is thought that demolition could take months - with the council having to compile a timetable to complete the job

The luxury complex was built by Mr Wildin in 2013. It was completed the following year. It is believed that demolition could take up to months. To complete the job, the council must create a timeline.

‘The appeal was heard by the Court of Appeal at the Royal Courts of Justice, London before Lady Justice Elisabeth Laing & Lord Justice Edis the 28th of September 2021. Judgment was suspended and handed down today (Thursday 4, November).

“Lady Justice Elisabeth Laing concluded that the Council could not prove whether Mr Wildin could afford the demolition of the building. The relevant facts were within Mr Wildin’s exclusive knowledge, and that Mr Wildin had never made full disclosure of his assets.

‘She reiterated Mr Wildin’s responsibility for his misfortune. She then dismissed the appeal against contempt findings and against the sentence imposed by HHJ Jarman QC.

Lord Justice Edis agreed that the disclosure of information concerning Mr Wildin’s financial situation was inadequate and that there was a’reasonable basis for the hypothesis that Mr Wildin was very wealthy.

Lord Justice Edis referred to the money Mr Wildin spent on a large sports hall built in his back yard without planning permission. He said that it was unlikely that any rational person would accept such a risk unless the risk was easily afforded.

‘With the appeal being dismissed, Mr Wildin has until 10 March 2022 in order to comply with the order for the required work if he wishes to avoid imprisonment.

“The Council also received substantial costs as part the hearing.”