16 August 2013

Council takes action over unauthorised loft conversion

A property owner who converted the top floor of a listed building into two flats without permission has been told to change it back.

Michael Hamdan, owner of 6 Palmeira Square, has been served with two enforcement notices by Brighton & Hove City Council.

The planning enforcement and listed building notices give Mr Hamdan nine months to stop using the fourth floor and internal roof-space as two separate planning units and convert the space back to one single flat.

The 4 storey terraced building is located on the east side of Palmeira Square within the Brunswick Square Conservation area. The building was listed in 1971.

In April last year, Brighton & Hove City Council received a complaint that unauthorised building work was being carried out at the property.  A council planning enforcement officer visited the premises and advised the builder to stop work.

The following month, following a successful prosecution for unauthorised works to a listed building, the officer made a second visit. He discovered that work had continued, and that the fourth floor and roof space had been converted into two flats.

Neither planning permission nor listed building consent has been granted for the alterations.

In August 2012 and January this year Mr Hamdan applied for retrospective planning permission to convert the fourth floor and roof space into two flats, Both applications were refused. Officers concluded that the work had not only harmed the character of the listed building, but potentially weakened its structure.

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, chair of the planning committee said:

“Converting the roof of this property without gaining planning permission, and then continuing building work against the advice of planning officers has been a costly mistake.

“The built heritage of our city deserves care and attention and adds so much to the quality of life in our city. We will continue to take appropriate action against those who carry out unauthorised work on historic buildings.

“Owners of any properties, but particularly listed buildings, are advised to contact the council’s planning team for advice before starting any work.

“In this case, a simple phone call to the council’s planning team to establish whether planning permission was required would have saved time, money and stress.”