Resident hit with significant fine for unlawful building

A resident has been ordered to pay over £67,000 for continuing to breach the terms of a Merton Council planning enforcement notice.

On 17 January 2014 at Kingston Crown Court, Mr Adeel Saleem Beg of Woodfield Avenue, Streatham was fined £25,000, given a Confiscation Order of £32,000 and ordered to pay the council’s legal costs which amounted to over £10,000.

Mr Beg was first served a notice following the erection of a three-storey house with three bedrooms and a dormer roof instead of a two storey house with two bedrooms in 2009 which was agreed at Planning Committee with conditions attached to it.

The council’s planning team told Mr Beg no development should take place until the materials he wanted to use had been approved but he went ahead. As he continued to build the house the council again advised the property did not comply with his planning permission and warned him of the consequences.

The notice gave Mr Beg six months to demolish the building. He appealed but was unsuccessful. However, Mr Beg continued to ignore the notice and the council began a prosecution resulting in a conviction on 23 March 2011. He was fined £2,000 after pleading guilty. It was expected he would resubmit a new planning application and remove the unauthorised dormer, third bedroom and replace the brickwork. However, he did nothing and rented the property out to tenants.

Mr Beg therefore found himself in court prosecuted again in 2013 for the same reason and he was convicted on 8 January 2013. This time Richmond Magistrate Court referred the case to the Crown Court for sentencing as the Magistrates were restricted to imposing a £20,000 fine, which they felt was not enough.

At Kingston Crown Court on 17 January 2014, Mr Beg was ordered to pay a fine of £25,000, a Confiscation Order for the rent he had unlawfully been paid of £32,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act and the legal fees of the council within three months or face imprisonment for a year. The Judge, His Honour Judge Peter Birts QC, cited Mr Beg’s continual refusal to engage with the proceedings, his persistent defiance and very obvious and deliberate breaches as reasons for the level of the sentence.

Cabinet member for Environmental Sustainability and Regeneration, Councillor Andrew Judge said: “We are pleased that the judge recognised the seriousness of this case. Building in built up areas can have a negative impact on neighbours which is why we give strict directions when granting planning applications.

“It was noted that the Judge specifically observed that it is unfair on developers/builders that lawfully develop property without breaching their planning permission for a minority to be non-compliant. We expect planning permissions to be followed and hope the result of this case deters other who feel they can flagrantly breach enforcement notices.”