A landlord who “believed he could act with impunity” has been ordered to tear down an unlawful extension and ordered to pay more than £15,000 in fines and fees.

Sultan Mahmood was given the hefty bill after being sentenced at Guildford Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, October 24 after he repeatedly failed to comply with a planning enforcement notice. 

Mahmood was granted planning permission to change a ground-floor office in Monument Way, Woking, into housing with an extension in October 2018. The council was soon tipped off about additional unauthorised building work for an L-shaped room. 

A retrospective application was refused by the planning committee in February 2021. The following month an enforcement notice was issued demanding the extension be demolished. The council said that no appeal was lodged. 

An inspection found the order had been ignored and Mahmood was warned he faced prosecution unless it was removed by September.

Mahmood was found guilty by Staines Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, September 27, 2023. He was sentenced on October 24 and fined £12,000 plus a victim surcharge of £170, and ordered to pay the council’s £3,532.50 legal costs. 

Cllr Liam Lyons, Woking Borough Council’s portfolio holder for planning, said: “Regulations are in place to protect the local environment from inappropriate and overzealous development. 

“Sadly, this is an example of a property owner who believed he could act with impunity by ignoring the planning process.

“Throughout this action, planning officers acted with integrity having repeatedly given Mr Mahmood opportunities to comply with the approved plans, yet he decided against taking the necessary step to resolve the matter. 

“Therefore, this significant fine should act as a deterrent to anyone who believes they can take the planning process into their own hands.”