LAMBETH USES PROCEEDS OF CRIME ACT AGAINST MILLIONAIRE DEVELOPER
Lambeth council have used the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) against a millionaire developer who illegally converted a Brixton house into flats without permission.
Jerrard Knight – who is included in the Sunday Times Rich List – and his company Lexadon Ltd, have been ordered to pay more than £175,000 after renting out a property as flats – despite having planning applications to do so repeatedly turned down by the council.
Lambeth say the case is just one of several planning enforcement cases in which Lambeth is using POCA legislation, which allows for the confiscation or recovery of the proceeds of criminal behaviour.
the council’s deputy leader (finance & investment), Cllr Paul McGlone, said: “Our planning system is there for a reason – to ensure any development is in the best interests of Lambeth – and anybody caught flouting the rules will be prosecuted.
“This particular case is a great result and the money we’ve been awarded can be used to tackle other breaches of planning in the borough.
“We are not afraid to use POCA powers – people benefitting from criminal behaviour will have to repay any ill-gotten gains as well as fines and legal costs.”
Sentencing at Inner London crown court Mr Recorder K King commented that Knight flagrantly pressed ahead and deliberately flouted the regulations.
He ordered Lexadon Ltd to pay £143,134 that they made from renting out the property as flats, as well as a £13,000 fine and Lambeth’s £6,812 costs. Knight was also fined £13,000.
Lexadon Ltd had applied three times to turn 48 Trent Road in Brixton into flats but failed to come to agreement with Lambeth planners. Despite having no planning permission, the property was rented as four flats.
Lambeth issued a planning enforcement notice demanding the unauthorised use of the property be stopped. A failure to comply with the notice led to prosecution proceedings from Lambeth who also made a POCA application to acquire financial information on the company.
The investigation found that Lexadon had benefited to the value of £143,134 from rental income. The court ordered that the unlawful profits be repaid to the public purse – it is expected that £53,000 will be given directly to the council and used to fund further planning enforcement activity.
POCA powers are also being used by Lambeth council following the conviction of Iqbal Ali Khan in relation to a property in Woodbourne Avenue, Streatham which he converted into flats without permission.
Khan was ordered to pay Lambeth’s costs of more than £17,000 after his appeal was turned down at the Old Bailey on September 5th and an application for a confiscation order under POCA has been made. (Source: Lambeth council press release)
NEW HOUSING COMPANY WILL BUILD MORE HOMES
Croydon council are proposing to set up their own housing company to address the shortage of homes in Croydon across all tenures, including affordable housing.
The building of new homes has previously been financed by the council through its housing revenue account (HRA) which has provided 100 affordable homes for rent with a further 200 set to be built by 2018.
But Croydon say that because of government restrictions on the level of borrowing within the HRA, this is now at its limit.
“The supply of new homes needs to be dramatically increased to meet current and future demands for all types of housing in Croydon” said the council in a statement.
“Therefore we are proposing to set up a ‘wholly-owned housing company’ which will enable it to set the tenure and rent.
“It would also be able to build homes exempt from right-to-buy and have freedom to borrow more money.”
Cllr Alison Butler, cabinet member for homes and regeneration, said: “Given the housing crisis in Croydon and the number of families needing a home to rent or buy, we have to explore every opportunity to boost supply.
“As a council we are committed to increasing housing supply across the borough and given the borrowing cap limiting the amount we can borrow to build new homes, we are keen to pursue other avenues such as the creation of a wholly-owned housing company.
“It would liberate the council from the government-imposed HRA borrowing cap and mean that we could work with partners or on our own to accelerate the building of homes for local residents.” (Source: Croydon council press release)
CROYDON SHORTLISTED FOR PLANNING AUTHORITY OF THE YEAR (SERIOUSLY)
Croydon are in the running for a major planning award after being hailed as an example to other authorities.
The council has been shortlisted for planning authority of the year in the inaugural MIPIM UK / Estates Gazette Awards.
The nomination says: “Croydon council’s radically pragmatic approach to planning is increasingly being seen as an exemplar for how planning authorities should work across the UK.
“It was recently identified as one of only a handful of authorities practising successful ‘proactive planning’ in the Farrell Review in to Architecture and the Built Environment and is winning awards for its work.
“The ingredients of Croydon’s approach are: a robust, comprehensive planning framework; a structured and thorough pre-app process; good processes and project management for plan-making and decision-taking and front-ending the use of specialist in-house design expertise as part of policy formulation and scheme design.”
A Croydon council spokesman said: “A team of judges have selected the country’s best regeneration projects, acknowledging future projects in Britain, while paying tribute to the best schemes from the private rented sector.
“They were particularly impressed by Croydon’s “radically pragmatic approach” to planning, which they said was an exemplar for how planning authorities should work across the UK.
“The recent Farrell Review, a government-commissioned industry-wide review of architecture and the built environment, identified Croydon as one of only a handful of authorities practising successful ‘proactive planning’,”.
Cllr Alison Butler, cabinet member for homes and regeneration, said: “To be recognised as one of the best planning authorities in the country is a fantastic achievement.
“We are leading the way with our approach to planning, which has a key role to play in delivering future growth in Croydon. “Good planning foundations are vital in attracting developers to invest in our borough.”
Croydon is up against Southwark and Sunderland for the award. The citation for Southwark says: “Southwark has a mission to deliver a fairer future for all and has set about it with urgency. “As a result, it has delivered more affordable homes over the past three years than any other London borough.
“Its next ambition is to deliver 11,000 new council homes over thirty years with 1500 built by 2018. “To developers, Southwark is both welcoming and demanding.
“They are invited to work to the borough’s strengths; the diversity and creativity of its people and its amazing historic position in central London.” The winners will be announced during MIPIM UK in London on 16 October.
(Sources: Croydon council press release, MIPIM UK/Estates Gazette Awards website)