Property developer Yusuf Sarodia has been hit what is believed to be an all time record fine for constructing a six-storey block of flats in east London without planning permission. Mr Sarodia has been fighting with Hackney Council in London since 2011, determined to preserve the project, which is worth millions of pounds.
The 62-year-old developer repeatedly refused demands from the authority to demolish the tower, and now he has been fined £735,000. The tower still has to come down.
Mr Sarodia, who is the director of Garland Development, supervised the construction of the building, which contains 34 flats, in Hoxton, East London.
Because each flat is worth an estimated £300,000, the building itself could have a market value of over £10 million. It is therefore unsurprising that Mr. Sarodia is fighting the demand to pull it down. In August Hackney Council order the property magnate and his company to pay £700,000, in addition to more than £25,000 in costs.
He refused to act, however, and months later the block is still in place, although presently unoccupied. Mr Sarodia and Garland Development were then fined an additional £10,000 in Snaresbrook Crown Court in east London. Hackney Council representative Andrew Woollard said that the planning service has never witnessed such a high fine being levied.
“We think it is a record figure.”
Mr Woollard said that Mr Sarodia did not gain approval from the applicable authority to build, which is why problems arose. When the developer failed to obey an order to demolish the building, action was taken.
The £700,000 confiscation order reflects all the rent that Mr. Sarodia has received since he built the apartment block. Mr. Woollard said that he would have been fined much more if the order had not already been in place.
Mr Sarodia said he would play the fine, although he believes that the council is victimising him. The company director said that he would pay the council next month. He explained that he follows a simple business model, with no outside builders. He also insisted that everyone makes mistakes, and the building has not been a haven for drug dealers or prostitutes.
Mr Sarodia explained that in the beginning, he build the block of flats according to plan, but admitted that he “put in a few extra windows.” Hackney Council said that if the building is not torn down as ordered, it will look to take additional enforcement action.