A landlord who repeatedly failed to comply with a Planning Enforcement Notice has received a hefty fine during a sentencing hearing at Guildford Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 24 October 2023.
Mr Sultan Mahmood, owner of 34 Monument Way, Woking, was fined £12,000 for repeatedly failing to remove an ‘L shaped’ dormer that did not comply with approved plans. Mr Mahmood was also ordered to pay the council’s legal costs totalling £3,532.50 and a victim surcharge of £170.
In October 2018, Mr Mahmood was granted planning permission for a change of ground floor property use from office to residential, construction of a single storey extension and rear roof dormer.
During construction, however, the council’s Planning Enforcement Team received a complaint that additional building works were being undertaken. It was observed that an unauthorised ‘L shaped’ dormer was being constructed at the rear of the property.
Having been notified that the ‘L shaped’ dormer was contrary to the approved plans, Mr Mahmood submitted a retrospective planning application which was refused by Woking Borough Council’s Planning Committee in February 2019.
A Planning Enforcement Notice was then issued in March 2019 requiring Mr Mahmood to remove the unauthorised ‘L shaped’ dormer by July 2019 and comply with the original approved plans. No appeal was lodged.
However, during a follow-up inspection in March 2020, it was observed the unauthorised dormer remained and Mr Mahmood was warned that unless it was removed by September 2020 prosecution proceedings would commence.
Despite further opportunities to comply with the Planning Enforcement Notice, Mr Mahmood failed to act and in December 2022 prosecution proceedings begun.
Mr Mahmood was summonsed to appear at Staines Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 27 September 2023, where he was found guilty in his absence under section 179 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Sentencing was adjourned until Tuesday 24 October 2023, where Mr Mahmood was fined £12,000 plus a victim surcharge of £170 and ordered to pay the council’s £3,532.50 legal costs.
All Magistrate and Crown Court fines are enforced by the National Compliance and Enforcement Service, part of HM Courts and Tribunals Service, and surrendered to HM Treasury.
Cllr Liam Lyons, Woking Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulation, said: “Planning regulations are in place to protect the local environment from inappropriate and overzealous development. Sadly, this is an example of a property owner who believed he could act with impunity by ignoring the planning process.
“Throughout this action, planning officers acted with integrity having repeatedly given Mr Mahmood opportunities to comply with the approved plans, yet he decided against taking the necessary step to resolve the matter.
“Therefore, this significant fine should act as a deterrent to anyone who believes they can take the planning process into their own hands. As Mr Mahmood has found to his own cost, the alternatives are often far more costly than just doing the job properly in the first place.”
Officers will continue to work with Mr Mahmood in order to achieve compliance with the Planning Enforcement Notice.