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3 August 2015, 11:58 | Updated: 3 August 2015, 12:09
A couple from Heydon have been fined £10,000 and ordered to hand over in excess of £75,000 after repeatedly renting out two homes without permission, despite legal action against them.
Mr Syed Moshin Akhtar, 73, and his wife Ilyas Fatima Akhtar, 67, of North Hall Farm, Barley Road, Heydon, were ordered to hand over the rent by His Honour Judge Mark Lucraft QC at a sentencing and confiscation hearing at the Old Bailey on Friday (31 July).
The units at the former barns at North Hall Farm were refused planning for conversion into residential homes in 2003 and then secured permission to be converted to offices the following year. However, Mr and Mrs Akhtar chose to rent the units as full time unfurnished homes.
South Cambridgeshire District Council took action against the pair, serving an enforcement notice to stop them renting out units illegally.
A further planning application in 2009 saw planning permission granted for conversion to holiday homes but the couple chose to rent the properties out again as full time unfurnished residential homes and further Council action was taken.
The Old Bailey Judge ordered the couple to handover £75,745.11 they had collected in rent, fined them a further £10,000 and awarded South Cambridgeshire District Council their legal costs of £16,000 which the pair will pay.
The rental income was recovered using a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Mr and Mrs Akhtar had already appeared at Cambridge Crown Court on a number of occasions to dispute the charges, finally pleading guilty on 9 January this year. They made a final appeal to the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division in July 2015 which was dismissed with an order for costs of £3,500.
Cllr Robert Turner, South Cambridgeshire District Council's cabinet member for planning, said: "This has been a really complex case and our officers have done an excellent job in bringing it to a successful conclusion. Mr and Mrs Akhtar were previously refused planning permission for residential homes for these two units and have chosen to completely ignore this fact. We know how frustrating breaches of planning are to the vast majority of people who play by the rules and the Judge's decision sends a clear message that breaches of this type are taken seriously."