Huge Fine for Couple Who Flouted Planning Laws
House in W5 was converted to five sub-standard flats
A couple who illegally converted a house on Warwick Road into flats could face jail unless they pay a £83,000 fine within six months.
George and Linda Chrisostomou, the owners of 68 Warwick Road, Ealing W5, converted the property into sub-standard flats without planning permission in 2008.
They appeared at Harrow Crown Court on Friday, 24 April and received fines of £5,000 each and were ordered to pay the council’s court costs totalling £11,163.54 plus a victim surcharge.
The court also imposed a significant confiscation order of £83,000 on them, which is a reflection of the money illegally obtained by continuing to rent the property as flats after the enforcement notice compliance date expired. This sum is collectable under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002, and is to be paid within six months, with 22 months imprisonment for non-payment.
During sentencing HH Judge Greenwood noted the reason the couple had failed to comply with the notice was obviously financial, and said: “You had the benefit of letting this property for a very long time, for years.”
The couple was reported to have converted the house without planning permission in March 2008. Following a warning from the council’s enforcement team they applied for planning permission retrospectively to retain the flats. The application was refused and a Planning Inspector dismissed their subsequent appeal in 2009.
Failure to take remedial steps led to them being issued with an enforcement notice to stop using the house as five flats. They appealed but this was also dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate in April 2012 who gave them a further six months, until October 2012, to comply with the enforcement notice.
The couple then applied for planning permission to convert the house into two flats, which was granted in September 2012, but they failed to implement the changes or to comply with the enforcement notice. The council decided to prosecute them and apply for a confiscation order under the POCA after issuing a letter of caution in September 2013.
Pat Hayes, the council’s executive director for regeneration and housing, said: “I cannot stress enough how important it is to obtain planning permission and follow regulations to ensure a property conversion is safe and legal.
5th May 2015