Lambeth Council has used the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) against a millionaire developer who illegally converted a house in Trent Road into flats without permission.
Jerrard Knight – who is included in the Sunday Times Rich List – and his company Lexadon Ltd, have been ordered to pay more than £175,000 after renting out a property as flats – despite having planning applications to do so repeatedly turned down by the council. Lexadon were previously behind the applications for apartments on Brixton Hill and Blenheim Gardens opposite the Windmill pub.
The case is just one of several planning enforcement cases in which Lambeth is using POCA legislation, which allows for the confiscation or recovery of the proceeds of criminal behaviour.
Lambeth’s Deputy Leader (Finance & Investment), Cllr Paul McGlone, said: “Our planning system is there for a reason – to ensure any development is in the best interests of Lambeth – and anybody caught flouting the rules will be prosecuted.
“This particular case is a great result and the money we’ve been awarded can be used to tackle other breaches of planning in the borough.
“We are not afraid to use POCA powers – people benefitting from criminal behaviour will have to repay any ill-gotten gains as well as fines and legal costs.”
Sentencing at Inner London Crown Court on Monday September 8th, Mr Recorder K King commented that Knight flagrantly pressed ahead and deliberately flouted the regulations.
He ordered Lexadon Ltd to pay £143,134 that they made from renting out the property as flats, as well as a £13,000 fine and Lambeth’s £6,812 costs. Knight was also fined £13,000.
Lexadon Ltd had applied three times to turn 48 Trent Road in Brixton into flats but failed to come to agreement with Lambeth planners. Despite having no planning permission, the property was rented as four flats.
Lambeth issued a planning enforcement notice demanding the unauthorised use of the property be stopped. A failure to comply with the notice led to prosecution proceedings from Lambeth who also made a POCA application to acquire financial information on the company.
The investigation found that Lexadon had benefited to the value of £143,134 from rental income. The court ordered that the unlawful profits be repaid to the public purse – it is expected that £53,000 will be given directly to the council and used to fund further planning enforcement activity.