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Victory for British neighbours in €57 million chateau court battle

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Victory for British neighbours in €57 million chateau court battle
Photo: Google Maps
10:49 CET+01:00
A vast Renaissance-style castle in southern France, worth €57 million, has been ordered to be demolished in a long-running judicial battle between a French property developer and his multi-millionaire British neighbours.
It's not exactly something you'd want to be told if you owned your very own castle in a picturesque part of France. 
 
But the Aix-en-Provence court of appeal ruled on Monday that Château Diter in Grasse, a town on the French Riviera, has to be destroyed on legal grounds. 
 
And the owner of the €57 million property, Patrick Diter, has been given a year and a half to do it. 
 
So, what's going on?
 
Well, the property wasn't always the vast French chateau of 3,000 metres squared that  it is now. 
 

In fact, at one point, it was a more modest 200 metres squared country house which through a lot of construction work, Diter turned into the palace it is today. 
 
The chateau has a swimming pool, a heliport and a road of 600 metres squared - all built illegally in a protected wooded area. 
 
Due to the fact that the work was carried out illegally, the French courts ordered "the restoration of the premises by demolishing all of the construction work" which had been carried out since 2005. 
 
 
 
Diter who was also fined €450,000 will face a further fine of €500 for every day he exceeds the time limit of 18 months specified by the French courts. 
 
Diter was also ordered to pay his neighbours €450,000 in damages, but an earlier imposed six-month suspended jail sentence was waived on appeal.
 
At Diter's first trial, held back in January 2019, assistant public prosecutor Pierre-Jean Gaury described Diter's transformation of the property as a "pharaonic project, delusional, totally illegal and built illegally."
 
Gaury added that it was carried out "in violation of urban planning rules, as well as of safety and environmental rules" by an owner whose "only concern is money".
 
Diter had earlier acknowledged making "mistakes" in carrying out wave after wave of expansion to the farmhouse on the large property he acquired in 1999.
 
He later sold off part of the estate to a London-based British couple, Stephen and Caroline Butt.
 
Stephen Butt operates Silchester Partners, an asset management company, and was described by the Sunday Times newspaper as one of the richest fund managers in England.
 
Over 10 years, he and his wife filed a series of complaints over what they called their neighbour's "building frenzy" and the disturbance caused when the property is let out for large-scale weddings and film shoots.
 
The property notably featured as Villa Carmella in the first season of  Riviera, a TV thriller first broadcast by Sky Atlantic.
 
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