Some of my most time consuming case work is linked to breaches in planning and development. It can take months to bring rogue developers and owners to a position where they have to restore properties to their original condition or situation. More serious punishments are now available through the Proceeds of Crime Act and I hope eventually to encourage officers to use the Act to deal with a rogue developer currently very busy in Willesden. The Act was used successfully in a recent case in Willesden Lane:
A judge ordered a Brent landlord to pay the record sum of £1.438 million for turning a house into 12 flats without planning consent following a two year intensive investigation by the Council. The landlord must pay the sum within six months or face a 10-year prison sentence. The order to pay the money follows a prosecution brought by planning enforcement officers against a landlord who had continuously flouted planning regulations in the borough for the last ten years. Brent's Planning Enforcement Team used powers that enable councils to seek to recover the 'proceeds of crime'. The case related to the failure to comply with the requirements of a planning enforcement notice for a property on Willesden Lane which had been converted from one house into 12 flats. The £1.438 million order is believed to be the highest confiscation order granted for a planning offence in the country and is based on the assumed benefit received from breaching planning regulations. He was also ordered to pay a fine of £4000 for the breach of the planning regulations and legal costs of almost £35,000. He ignored the council's notices and as a result, profited hugely from the sub-standard accommodation he tenanted.