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Council prosecution sees landowners ordered to pay £14k over illegal hostel

The owners of an illegal hostel in Swanley have been ordered to pay £14,000 in fines and costs after being prosecuted for failing to comply with two planning enforcement notices.

In a four-day trial beginning on 2 December 2019, Woolwich Crown Court fined the land owners Mr Bhupinderjeet Kullar and Mrs Narinder Kullar £4,000 combined together with a further £10,000 in costs.

Mr and Mrs Kullar had been issued with the planning enforcement notices by Sevenoaks District Council on 14 December 2016, requiring them to cease use of The Convent of Mercy as a hostel.

The second notice required the removal of a wooden shed that had been put up without permission.

The notices were not complied with and the building continued to be used as a hostel until 11 March 2018 when the council obtained a closure order from Sevenoaks Magistrates’ following repeated anti-social behaviour.

In August 2019 Mr Mustafa Kemal Mustafa, who ran the hostel, was fined £15,000 for failing to comply with the planning enforcement notice to stop the use as a hostel.

Alison Salter, the council’s Planning Team Manager, said: “Mr and Mrs Kullar did not comply with our Planning Enforcement Notices for a number of years. Only by taking action in the Courts was it possible to close this unlawful hostel.

“The building was not fit to be a hostel and there were numerous reports of anti-social behaviour associated with its tenants. The safety of our residents is our top priority and thanks to colleagues across the Council and partnership working with Kent Police, the Fire Service and the HSE, we were able bring Mr and Mrs Kullar to justice.

“The £14,000 fine sends a clear message that we will not tolerate people who ride roughshod over the law.”

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