Developer fined again over bulldozed listed building

has been ordered to pay a further £13,000 in fines and legal costs after he failed to rebuild it.

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Developer bulldozed listed building

Council to act on Grade II listed schoolhouse demolition


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Property developer Rajiv Laxman who was fined in November 2007 for demolishing an important listed building in Putney without permission, has been ordered to pay another £13,000 in fines and legal bills after he failed to rebuild it.

Rajiv Laxman was prosecuted by the council's planning department for failing to comply with a notice requiring him to rebuild the former caretaker's cottage at Brandlehow School.

Mr Laxman, sole director of Croydon-based property development firm Abrus Ltd, was fined £6,200 and ordered to pay costs of £6,800. He denied the offence but was convicted after a day long trial at South Western magistrates court last Thursday.

The court heard that Mr Laxman unlawfully demolished the Grade II Listed cottage in January 2007. For this offence he was fined and ordered to pay costs totalling £11,000 when he was taken to court by the council last November.

But while that case was pending, Mr Laxman was also served with a notice requiring him to rebuild the property to exactly match its former appearance, using the same design and materials. That enforcement notice was issued in May 2007 and gave Mr Laxman until the middle of August 2007 to comply – but he refused, prompting last week's hearing.

Mr Laxman could now face a third prosecution if he continues to ignore the enforcement notice requiring him to rebuild the cottage. If the case went to a crown court, he could face unlimited fines.

The council's planning applications chairman Cllr Leslie McDonnell said: "Mr Laxman has already been to court twice as a result of his flagrant breaches of these important planning laws. If he continues to ignore the notice he faces every prospect of appearing before the courts yet again.

"This is an important building and the council is determined to ensure that the enforcement notice is complied with and the cottage rebuilt."

The building, which is no longer used by Brandlehow School, was designed by the controversial architect Erno Goldfinger – best known for designing the iconic Trellick Tower in Paddington. The school was built in 1952 and is one of only two in London to have been designed by Mr Goldfinger. It was constructed using innovative building methods for the time, using a pre-cast reinforced concrete frame. It was given listed building status in 1993.

Mr Laxman applied for permission to demolish the cottage in 2002 but was refused. He took the case to appeal but a Government planning inspector backed the council's decision to say no.

However in January last year he began to demolish the cottage. Planning officers immediately rushed to the site and ordered all work to cease. Mr Laxman was contacted and told to stop any further demolition work. He was also warned that unauthorised demolition was a criminal offence and that the council would require the building to be restored.

However, when the officers returned to the site two days later it was clear that more of the building had been knocked down, including its precious roof, using a mechanical digger.

Since then no further work has been carried out and the site is now overgrown with vegetation.


March 31, 2008