A Stevenage developer has seen his attempt to gain a Certificate of Lawfulness for four flats backfire in spectacular fashion.

Mr Shamsi received planning permission in 2015 to build an end-of-terrace two-bedroom house in Vinters Avenue.

But, after turning it into four self-contained studio flats without planning permission, he has now been ordered to return it to its original state by Stevenage Borough Council.

Councillors confirmed the decision at a planning committee meeting on Wednesday, April 2.

The property was originally built in accordance with the approved plans, with work completed by January 2017. But, just 46 days after the final building control inspection was carried out, the first tenants moved in and, by September, a tenancy had been agreed for the fourth flat.


In November last year, Mr Shamsi applied for a Certificate of Lawfulness which, if granted, would show that the time limit for enforcement action had expired. He argued that the time limit of four years was now up.

However, planning officers noted that the four-year limit only applied where there had been a change of use. They contended that the building had only ever been used as flats, and therefore the time limit for enforcement action was ten years.

While Mr Shamsi argued that he had lived there for a short time when it was first built, council officers found evidence linking him to a different address at the same time.

They concluded "on the balance of probabilities" that the property had likely only ever been used as flats, meaning the time limit for enforcement action had not expired.

Upon investigation, planning officers found the quality of the flats to be "exceptionally poor". Each flat had around 13 square metres of internal floor space - the required standard is 37 square metres.

Evidence provided by the applicant showed that by the time building work started on the Vinters Avenue property, he had already converted another property in Stevenage to flats without planning permission and was renting them out.

Last year, Mr Shamsi successfully applied for a Certificate of Lawfulness for that property in Wisden Road. It has been converted into six self-contained flats.

Planning officers recommended that councillors refuse the application for a Certificate of Lawfulness for the Vinters Avenue property, and serve an Enforcement Notice requiring Mr Shamsi to return the property to its 2015 plans within six months.

Officers considered that the disruption posed to the existing tenants was outweighed by the need to avoid encouraging other "unscrupulous" developers from similar conversions.