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Council enforcement blitz against planning and licensing breaches on the Cally

November 20, 2012

The Caledonian Road – many rogue landlords have surreptitiously crammed-in numerous bedsits and substandard flats into subdivided floors above shops, attics and basements – without planning permission.

The Council has stepped-up its enforcement against numerous planning and licensing breaches on the Caledonian Road. During the Summer and Autumn, Council officials have trawled the Cally area and found numerous cases where property owners have flagrantly ignored planning and licensing rules.

Tough enforcement is now underway against property owners who face severe penalties if they fail to comply. The Council has powers to prosecute and it can require owners to demolish unauthorised developments.

Following public meeting held on July 26th this year, senior officials of the Council, and local elected Councillors pledged to start a vigorous campaign of enforcement against rogue landlords on the Cally.

The Council has now set-up a dedicated team of planners working on enforcement in Caledonian ward, specifically targeting the premises where unscrupulous developers have been converting shops into flats and bedsits and subdividing properties into tiny living spaces.

The Council has begun action in numerous cases after surveying dozens of suspect addresses. The first set of investigations and action are below:

  • 334-340 Caledonian Road (flats above, below and behind the previous Topkapi Place restaurant). This is a notorious case where up to 15 small flats have been carved out in the basement, rear and upper floors of this building. The owner has tried to claim these have been in use for over 4 years. The Council has now refused retrospective planning permission and is continuing an enforcement case. The owner has been instructed to cease using one of the flats for residential use on the orders of the Council’s environmental health officers.
  • 342 Caledonian Road (flat behind the Prince public house). Legal enforcement notice has been served requiring this property to cease being used for residential purposes. Landlord is required to remove all features such as utility room, kitchen, bathroom or shower rooms.
  • 313-315 Caledonian Road (the semi-derelict “Heritage Library” building) where the owner has erected steel shuttering to every rear window and door with extensive rolls of razor wire around the building’s rear perimeter. An enforcement notice required the owner to comply by 15th November. However, he has not done so and will face legal action for failure.
  • 317 Caledonian Road (closed-up shop unit with flats above, accessed from Carnoustie Drive) – there has been a large amount of excavation in the basement witnessed recently and an investigation is underway.
  • 70 Pembroke Street (also known as “Choudhury Mansions) – a five storey block of flats built without proper planning permission in 2006. After lengthy enforcement action and extensive legal challenges, the owner was issued with a legal order to demolish and, as a result, demolition has finally begun.
  • 290 Caledonian Road (formerly the “Natural Shop”) – the owner of the building dug-out a basement flat, created a lightwell in the pavement and erected a steel shutter. All of these were unpermitted and enforcement notices have been served requiring residential use to cease and removal of the shutter.
  • 300 Caledonian Road (Dental Surgery) – the owner has built a basement flat without planning permission and – after the Council discovered this – tried to get a retrospective planning permission. This has now been refused and enforcement action is underway.
  • 289-291 Caledonian Road (above Ladbrokes) – owner required to remove unauthorised roof extension and replace with a smaller-sized one.
  • 356 Caledonian Road (empty shop) where the owner has recently erected a steel roller shutter – enforcement action has now started
  • 282 Caledonian Road (former Salantino Café) is now being used as an office – enforcement investigation has commenced.

Two other very well publicised cases have led to a complete stop on unacceptable activities in premises:

  • 278 Caledonian Road (formerly “Pleasure Garden”) where a sauna and massage club operated without any license. This was also widely believed to be a club where paid-for sex was traded. The Council and police raided the club in February and the Council later told the operator that she would be refused a license to trade. The business has completely closed.
  • 169-171 Caledonian Road (formerly “Pappeos” nightclub) where late night music, drinking and dancing caused repeated problems including violent crime in the street. The Council successfully closed this club down and the owner subsequently forfeited his lease.

In total the Council has identified 17 other properties where there appear to be breaches of planning control and is investigating these. Other successful cases include:

  • 95 Caledonian Road – unathorised shop front removed after enforcement action began
  • 335 Caledonian Road – roller shutter has been removed after Council threatened legal action
  • 282 and 284 Caledonian Road – decking and seating area on the pavement removed after warning letter sent
  • 333 Caledonian Road – unauthorised shop signs removed after legal notice by the Council

At the public meeting in July, nearly 200 people crammed into the Jean Stokes hall to vent their frustration at years of inaction by the Council. Many of the planning permission infringements occurred over 4 years ago and were therefore past their “legal sell-by date”. Many members of the public are furious that the Council did nothing during the previous decade.

The current Town Hall administration and local Councillors have promised that every breach that comes to light will be enforced. And the Council has said that rogue landlords who have made money from renting-out unauthorised buildings will face prosecution under the Proceeds of Crime Act. This law allows the Council to impose heavy fines on landlords which are based on the illicit income they have made from such developments. The recouped money can then be used by the Council for community benefit.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Owen permalink
    August 7, 2013 5:41 pm

    I was housed into one whilst on Camden Councils waiting list, by a rouge estate agent called Anthia lettings who now owns the hotel at the top of Caledonian rd. 6 years ago was only on Holloway rd at an office which is still open. Taking people’s money off the government.

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