Record Fine for Cloncurry Street Rogue Builder

Man who knocked down home without consent now half a million pounds worse off

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A rogue builder who turned a quiet street in Fulham's "Alphabet Streets" conservation area into a building site after knocking down his house without consent is now more than £500,000 worse off after being taken to court by Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

Piers Rance of Cloncurry Street was fined £120,000 at Isleworth Crown Court on December 13 – £40,000 more than the previous highest fine for similar offences in the UK.

He was also told to pay the council’s legal costs of around £100,000 and will have to meet his own costs, said to be around £300,000 - to make the eye-watering total of more than half a million pounds.

Conservation areas are designated for their special architectural and historic interest and anyone wishing to demolish a building needs to obtain permission from the council before going ahead with the work.

Rance failed to do this breaching planning law and causing his neighbours considerable distress in the process.

Cllr Nick Botterill, deputy leader and cabinet member for environment, said: " Rance showed absolutely no consideration for his neighbours or planning law by demolishing this house in a conservation area. Most people in this borough realise that their actions impact on others, but Rance did not care and did whatever he wanted.

" The colossal fine that Rance has been hit with is £40,000 more than the previous highest record fine and reflects how serious his offences are. While we are keen to create a borough of opportunity and welcome responsible development, people simply cannot take matters like this into their own hands."

Rance had submitted a planning application to the council in April 2007 to extend his house on Cloncurry Street, Fulham, which included the excavation of a new basement underneath the house, but before the council could make a decision on whether or not to grant planning permission for these extensions, Rance had torn down the house and already begun digging out a new basement area.

Rance claimed that the building needed to be demolished as it was in a state of collapse but in his appeal trial, which took place in October, Judge Denniss did not accept this defence. He stated that it was extremely unlikely that Mr Rance would have purchased a property for £2.2million without carrying out a structural survey unless he always had the intention of demolishing it for financial gain.

The "ABC streets" stretching from Fulham Palace Road to Bishops Park include some of Fulham's most sought after large family homes, with multi-million pound prices common. Two homes currently for sale include a six bedroom corner house fo £3,950,000 and a five bedroom home for £3,500,000.

December 16, 2011