The highest penalty ever imposed for a planning offence in central London has been given to a landlord prosecuted by Westminster City Council, who divided his home into flats without planning permission.
The council said the property’s owner, Mr Farook Owadally, had failed to take notice of warnings from its planning department for a period of seven years. Planning enforcement notices had been served on Mr Owadally since 2012.
The property owner converted his three bedroom home in Maida Vale without planning permission then charged tenants over Â£1,000 per month in rent for each of the eight tiny â€˜flatsâ€™. The flats, many of which comprised just one small room, were converted from the basement, ground, first, second and third floors of the property.
Several of the flats failed to meet the minimum size requirements of 37 sq m for new one bedroom flats. One of the flats was a mere 18 sq m.
The council said that residentsâ€™ safety was the â€˜driving forceâ€™ of its prosecution.
On the councilâ€™s website, Councillor Richard Beddoe, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Place Shaping and Planning, said:
â€œUnfortunately this is a straightforward case of the law catching up with an unscrupulous person. Our planning teams arenâ€™t just ticking boxes and filling in forms for fun â€“ we have planning rules for a reason, to make sure housing is fit for purpose and safe. Weâ€™ve made it our top priority to create more affordable homes for hardworking people and weâ€™re on track to build at least 1,850 of them by 2023.â€
Having failed to â€˜engage with planning officersâ€™, heed the planning enforcement notices or return the property to its previous condition, Southwark Crown Court ruled that Mr Owadally be fined Â£90,000. He was also served with a confiscation order amounting to Â£400,000 and was ordered to pay costs of Â£40,000. Mr Owadilly was given three months to pay the confiscation order and a further three months to pay the costs and court fines for the planning offence.