Illegal outbuilding costs family £50,950 following a successful prosecution by Wycombe District Council
The family who own 44 Hughenden Road, High Wycombe will have to pay out in excess of £50,000 following a successful prosecution by Wycombe District Council at Aylesbury Crown Court.
The family had been renting out an illegal outbuilding to tenants, despite repeated enforcement action which ordered them to stop using the annexe at the back of their property as a separate residential unit.
Wycombe District Council worked with the Buckinghamshire County Council financial investigation team and used powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2004 (POCA) to recover money made from the criminal activity. In total £21,000 was recovered – the sum the family who owned the property had obtained from renting the outbuilding.
Councillor David Johncock, Cabinet Member for Wycombe District Council said: ‘If people break the law and make financial gain from their illegal activity, we will go after them and use full provision of the law to reclaim the money using the proceeds of crime act.‘
He continued: ‘This was a deliberate and wilful breach of planning control in which the [family who owned the property] showed absolutely no regard for the local community or those people they had living within the outbuilding. Our enforcement team works hard to protects local people against these kind of rogue landlords and the message we want to send out is very clear – we will take action to protect the environment and living conditions for everyone within the District.‘
Passing sentence Judge Sheridan, who presided over the case commended the Council stating that the Council had taken a ‘long, long, road to try to achieve compliance’ and deserved to be praised for its efforts in bringing this case. In passing sentence, the Judge added that the ‘penalty is expected to hurt‘ as it is designed to ensure compliance and that the [family who owned the property] would also have to pay the ‘massive legal bill – for which you (defendants) are responsible.‘ he added: ‘The Council must pursue this to the bitter end.‘
The judge also reminded the defendants that if they failed to pay £25,000 costs to the Council, £21,000 confiscation order or fines totalling £4,950 they could face a spell in of imprisonment of up to 13 months each.
In total the costs and fines payable total £50,950 and are broken down as follows :
- Total fines £4,950.
- Confiscation Order £21,000.
- Costs Order £25,000.
The family owning the property finally complied with the enforcement notice last week prior to the Court hearing by ensuring that all kitchen and bathroom facilities had been removed. They ceased using the property for residential purposes in early 2015 after court summons were served upon them.