A bizarre fairytale castle built by a homeless man in woodlands is set to be torn down after Town Hall officials declared it a fire risk.
The makeshift home – known as the Hobbit House in Tournefeuille, south-western France – was created from rubbish found at a local tip.
Now its creator – a former animator named only as David, 53, in local media – is facing the heartbreaking possibility of seeing it demolished.
David – who was forced out of his former apartment by squatters – has become a mainstay of local life.
Not only has his castle become a tourist attraction, but he also uses it to run art workshops for local children.
David first lived in a battered tent beside the nearby Touch River.
He explained: “I got out of the tent one day and an old woman told me it all looked a terrible mess, which is why I decided to make my temporary shelter more appealing.”
To his surprise, his DIY castle quickly became a local tourist attraction for both kids and adults.
David then started creating workshops for kids every Sunday when they gathered at the castle to make toys.
One local Souhail Amirouch, 28, said: “I think it’s a great curiosity and inspires the imagination.
“I watched it evolved from a single hut through to a fairytale castle and it’s great, it’s magic.”
And Laurent Mahout, 38 – who takes his six-year-old daughter to the Hobbit House – said: “You have to wonder why they are doing it because at the end of the day doesn’t bother anyone, and quite frankly it looks nice.”
But now David is facing homelessness again after local councillors ordered him on Christmas Eve to tear down the castle.
They claim it is a fire risk and could encourage other DIY builders to put up buildings in the woodlands.
The mayor’s office added that they have responsibility for the safety of the town and its people.
After a public outcry, the deadline for it to be dismantled has now been extended, but it will not be put off, insists the Town Hall.
David said: “The fact that I’m here is obviously illegal, but the way they are trying to get me to move on is not being done in legal way with a full notice, and therefore it has at the moment no more value than a wish.”
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Story By: Michael Leidig, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
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