Councils using ‘Intelligence’ to track down low EPC properties and fine £5,00015:08 PM, 29th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago 36
I bought a Victorian terraced house in London back in 2018. Keen on doing some upgrades/improvements, I booked a planning application consultation with Croydon Council.
In the conversation with the “Senior Planning Officer” I asked questions about “squaring off” the roof doing a dormer conversion, and he confirmed it could be done under PD provided the usual rules were followed.
The officer then issued a letter that summarised our conversation. One of the things he stated in the letter is that “the property is not in a conservation area”
I decided to crack on with the works and carried out an L shaped dormer conversion and obtained the Building Regulations Certificate for it.
When I recently applied for a Certificate of Lawful Development I received an email by another planning officer who stated that the property is actually within a conservation area and therefore roof alterations are not permitted. He stated that the planning officer that had advised me in the pre-application meeting “must have made an error”. The conservation area map looked indeed a bit confusing, as the area was indeed augmented in 2007 and hence the reason for confusion, the officer must have looked at the previous boundary which showed the property just out of it.
I then withdrew the certificate application, which by the way stated that “the works have largely been completed” so the council planning department might now be aware of this.
I spent £80K on the loft conversion, and I am now in disbelief… I am wondering what options I have:
1) Do I risk the council serving an enforcement notice and forcing me to put the property back as it was? What is the likelihood of this if there are no complaints from any neighbours?
2) Can the officer or the council be held responsible for the erroneous information that led me to spend so much time and money on what appears to be an unlawful loft conversion? Can I legally claim any damages or any costs incurred as they resulted by following wrong information provided by them?
3) Would the 4-year rule apply given it is a conservation area, and would I be able to apply for a certificate of Lawfulness once that time has elapsed?
4) is there any point in exposing what happened to the council itself, and any chance of the planner issuing retrospective planning permission without demanding substantial changes such as for instance converting the shape of the roof from L Shaped cube to mansard (which I wouldn’t be able to afford?)
If anybody can provide answers to any of the questions above, or advice about the best way to proceed, it would be greatly appreciated!
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