A Dagenham man who converted an outbuilding in his garden into a two-bedroom apartment without planning permission has been fined over £15,000.

Alim Rana, 55, of Whalebone Lane North, ignored a council enforcement notice issued in November 2019 which ordered him to to stop using the outbuilding as self-contained accommodation.

He was also ordered to remove all alterations, fixtures and waste.

In April, council officers found people were still living in the building.

Mr Rana failed to attend a hearing at Romford Magistrates’ Court on July 7, and in his absence he was ordered to pay a fine of £15,000, with costs of £1,761 and a victim surcharge of £181.

If he fails to remove the structure, which has a kitchen and bathroom, he risks further prosecution.

The case came to light three years ago, when neighbours complained about an illegal structure in his rear garden.

Council officers had to apply for a court warrant after being refused entry into the building.

The council's safety chief, Cllr Syed Ghani, said: “Planning rules and regulations are there to make sure people are building and living in safe and secure structures.

“In this particular case, the man in question had plenty of time to comply, but he chose not to and has learned an expensive lesson.”