Rogue developer fined for breach of planning laws

PR2208/SB/MJ - 04/03/2019

An East Grinstead property owner has been ordered to pay £11,500 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 after he gained financially by breaching planning laws.

In April 2016 Mr Greg Hedges unlawfully carried out work to the exterior of his property at 75 High Street, East Grinstead, without obtaining the appropriate planning permission.

The property is located in a Conservation Area at the historic heart of East Grinstead and any new development must be carefully managed to ensure it preserves the character of the historic area.

The unauthorised building work was reported to Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC) for investigation and Mr Hedges was served with a Planning Enforcement Notice. The notice required that the property was restored to its original state but despite repeated requests to make the required changes, Mr Hedges failed to comply with the notice.

By wilfully ignoring the Planning Enforcement Notice Mr Hedges was able to let his flat to a tenant and collect a sizable financial sum in rental income. His unlawful development and disregard for planning regulations enabled Mr Hedges to profit financially and MSDC therefore applied for a Confiscation Order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

On 25 February 2019 at Brighton Crown Court a Confiscation Order in the amount of £11,500 was made against Mr Greg Hedges. Mr Hedges was also ordered to pay costs to the Council of £2040.

Councillor Andrew MacNaughton, MSDC’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning said:

“East Grinstead is a town steeped in history and Mid Sussex District Council has a duty to protect this historic environment for future generations. The development at 75 High Street is not in keeping with the rest of this conservation area and it’s quite right that the owner is required to return the building to its original state.

“Mr Hedges profited from this unlawful development by ignoring our Enforcement Notice and renting out his flat. It would be completely inappropriate to allow him to retain that money and I’m delighted that the court has awarded this Confiscation Order.”

Under the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 the Confiscation Order sum of £11,500 is divided between HM Treasury (50%), HM Courts and Tribunals Service (12.5%), and the remaining 37.5% is for law enforcement and prosecutors, which goes to Mid Sussex District Council.