Adrian Coquelin, 55, of Gramercy, Route des Landes, Vale, admitted carrying out work without permission on High Hopes, La Vrangue Hill, St Peter Port. He also pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a compliance notice between January and March 2019. He had denied the second charge until the day of the trial, but then changed his plea as the trial was due to start.
The Magistrate’s Court heard how the property, which is owned by the defendant, came to the attention of planners in late 2018 and they were concerned that unlawful development was taking place.
A letter was sent to Coquelin warning him to cease working, but there was no reply. The planners then managed to organise a visit to the site in October and they were concerned to see that the basement was being turned into a separate unit of accommodation.
They requested a retrospective application, but there was no response. This resulted in the compliance notice being issued, giving him up to two months to carry out reinstatement work.
This ordered that the stairs between the basement and first floor be reinstated, the eastern chimney be removed, as well as all the replacement windows and new drainage pipework.
But the work was not carried out and by April a new unit of basement accommodation had been created. It was noted that the pre-1900 property had been in a poor state before Coquelin bought it.
He told the court that he had not realised he needed permission for work such as taking down a chimney. And he added that the window company said there was no need for permission because they were a like-for-like replacement.
With the staircase he said that it had been rotten and full of woodworm, so he had removed it temporarily, but then realised it made the basement a nice room so had not replaced it. He had now rented the property out.
Judge Graeme McKerrell said it was accepted that the building was in a poor state of repair, but that did not mean the planning regulations did not need to be complied with.
‘As a builder Mr Coquelin, I’m sure, is aware of that,’ he said.
‘And if he wasn’t, he should have been aware of what he can do.’
He said he must hand down significant penalties to mark the importance of planning laws. Coquelin was fined £2,000 for carrying out work without permission and £3,000 for failing to comply with the compliance notice.
Judge McKerrell noted that these penalties did not mean the planners would not push him to return the property to how it was.