Council could take enforcement action after house in Westcliff is illegally turned into three flats

Two illegal developments could face enforcement action following investigations by Southend Council’s planning team.

Officers have recommended members of the Development Control Committee take action after a semi-detached property on Prince Avenue, in Westcliff, was converted into flats illegally and an outside staircase was built at a property in Leigh without planning permission.

The house on Prince Avenue was turned into flats in 2018 without planning permission and the owner has subsequently tried to obtain the permission three times retrospectively.

Permission was refused every time.

The latest refusal came in February and the council is now looking to take enforcement action which could give the owner just four months to reverse the changes to the house – even if the flats are occupied.

Council officers said in a report: “Taking enforcement action in this case may amount to an interference with the owners’ or occupiers’ human rights. However, it is necessary for the local planning authority to balance the rights of the owners and occupiers against its legitimate aims to regulate and control land within its area.”

They added: “Two of the three flats currently in the building fall short of the adopted internal space standards and in one of those flats access to the amenity space, shower room and kitchen is only available through the bedroom.

“The third flat does have sufficient floor space but no access to external amenity space.”

Meanwhile, on London Road in Leigh, council officers found an outside staircase has been built on a two-storey building to allow access to a first floor flat.

The property contains a bar at ground floor and a flat on the first floor. The staircase is the only way of accessing the flat but it was built without planning permission.

In a report council officers explained the owner had attempted to get planning permission twice but on both occasions it was refused because it was “unsafe”.

They are calling on councillors to enforce action which will require the staircase to be torn down within three months.

Both properties will be discussed at a Development Control Committee meeting on Wednesday.

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter