Record £80,000 fine for Twickenham demolition

A south-west London resident has received a record fine for knocking down his 19th-century house without planning permission.

Illegal demolition: £80,000 plus costs of £42,500
Illegal demolition: £80,000 plus costs of £42,500
John Johnson demolished the home, which is in a conservation area, after receiving planning permission in June 2010 from the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames to build a two-storey side, rear extension and basement. However, the council did not approve the demolition of the house entirely.

The council took the case to court, where magistrates referred it to the Crown Court in Kingston, which fined Johnson £80,000, plus costs of £42,500. The previous highest fine was £56,000, the council said in a statement.

The judge said the high fine was warranted due to the financial benefit, level of culpability and the harm involved.

During the case, the prosecution argued that the demolition had been carried out for "financial benefits" and that Johnson had done it to save himself about £318,000 in building costs, as it was cheaper to build from scratch rather than refurbish the existing property.

However, the defence maintained that Johnson had made a genuine mistake and was sorry for his actions.

Virginia Morris, Richmond Council's cabinet member for environment and planning, said: "I hope that this will now demonstrate to residents and other developers in the borough that planning regulations need to be taken very seriously and cannot be disregarded or disrespected.

"I hope this will serve as a deterrent to those considering not complying with planning and conservation requirements. Those who flout the law in such matters will have to face the consequences."

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