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A 43-year-old ex-soldier has been ordered to demolish a Welsh hilltop castle he lovingly built by hand to use as a ‘therapeutic fort’ for struggling veterans, as it does not have a correct building permit.

A former soldier has been ordered to demolish a Welsh hilltop castle he lovingly hand-built and opened as a “therapeutic fort” for troubled veterans.

Former corporal Mike Allen, 43, used the stone building in Sirhowy Valley, south Wales, as a refuge for veterans struggling with mental health problems.

Mr Allen, who suffered from post-traumatic stress, built the castle by hand by dragging huge slabs of stone up a steep slope and topping it with a Welsh flag flying from a pole.

But he was ordered by Caerphilly County Council to demolish the castle because he does not have the required planning permission.

The real Rambo was informed he had broken regulations after “the council expressed concern that agricultural land was being used for recreational purposes”.

Mr Allen appealed the decision but said he would rebuild the structure nicknamed “Wattsville Castle” to meet regulations so it could last for “centuries”.

A 43-year-old ex-soldier has been ordered to demolish a Welsh hilltop castle he lovingly built by hand to use as a ‘therapeutic fort’ for struggling veterans, as it does not have a correct building permit.

Former Corporal Mike Allen, 43 (pictured), was ordered to demolish a Welsh hilltop castle he lovingly hand built and opened as a ‘therapeutic fort’ for veterans in trouble.

He was ordered by Caerphilly County Borough Council to demolish the castle because he did not have the appropriate planning permission.

He was ordered by Caerphilly County Borough Council to demolish the castle because he did not have the appropriate planning permission.

He began building a stone cabin after being invited to live in a caravan on land owned by a farming family.

It was eventually built to resemble a medieval castle and equipped with exercise stations, cooking facilities and a dry stone wall center for ex-servicemen to come and relax.

Mr Allen said: “They said I could come here and build whatever I wanted. They didn’t expect a castle to be honest, but it evolved toward that over time.

“Since I left the army, there have been certain periods where I have had a difficult time and rather than procrastinating, I came here with a bag and collected piles and piles of stones .

“After a particularly difficult time, I gathered a big pile of stones and transformed the cabin into a castle.

“As it got bigger and bigger and more people came, it was great to see so many happy faces here.

“It’s been a coping mechanism for me. If I sit and do nothing, questions run through my head. I prefer to do something functional and in the moment and do something creative.

Mr Allen says he will rebuild the castle to comply with planning permission rules by splitting the building in two to provide shelter for animals rescued by landowners and for local people visiting the area.

He said: I built this without any money. I collected all the stones myself and transported all the logs, so there is no cement or treated wood at all, so the lifespan is short – we always knew that.

“We’re not going to try to argue. – what we are going to do is divide the castle in two. Half will be a barn especially for animals. The landowners here have been great to me and helped me, but they also do a lot to save the animals.

“The second half will be a problem when the local community comes in where people can play music, do whatever they want here, and then we’ll change that part to recreational so it doesn’t disrupt the whole farm.

Mr Allen, who suffered from post-traumatic stress, built the castle by hand by carrying huge slabs of stone up a steep slope and topping it with a Welsh flag flying from a pole.

Mr Allen, who suffered from post-traumatic stress, built the castle by hand by carrying huge slabs of stone up a steep slope and topping it with a Welsh flag flying from a pole.

“We will now simply try to redevelop the castle in several parts according to the specified regulations.”

Mr Allen had launched a crowdfunding page to fight the decision and save the cabin.

He said: “The castle has also been used by many for yoga, meditation, fitness sessions, stargazing, family hikes and has over time become a wellness hotspot with visitors from everywhere.”

Speaking previously, Mr Allen said the shelter was a safe place where veterans or others with mental health issues could relax.

He said: “Sometimes we struggle to be around normal people and it can be difficult to cope with – but when we are around other veterans and other people in the same situation it is easier.

“After leaving the military, I had serious mental health and other issues. I struggled for a long, long time and things weren’t working.

“Things kept getting worse, so I eventually climbed the mountain and started building.

“The cabin started as a shelter but has transformed into something truly special. It healed me. This allowed me to protect myself from the elements, focus and have a sense of accomplishment while enjoying the scenery.

A spokesperson for Caerphilly County Borough Council said: “We are sensitive to the context of this development and recognize the level of support Mr Allen has attracted over the course of this project.

“However, as a local planning authority we must enforce planning laws consistently and address issues relating to public safety.

“It has been widely reported that thousands of people have visited the building in recent years, but the structure is unsafe and poses a significant risk to anyone visiting the site.

“We have a duty to protect the public and enforce current legislation. It is therefore important that the council applies a fair and consistent approach to all planning breaches.

“We will continue to work with Mr Allen, as well as the owner of the land, to ensure the requirements listed in the enforcement notice are met as quickly as possible.”

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