Andrew Panayi denies Islington councillor’s allegation he is a ‘notorious rogue landlord’
- Credit: Andrew Panayi
A property tycoon described as a “notorious rogue landlord” at an Islington Council planning meeting has denied the allegation.
Andrew Panayi did not attend the online meeting where his application to build a two-bed flat for four inhabitants above 334 to 340 Caledonian Road was discussed, and the allegation was made.
Four neighbours raised concerns about the property, airing complaints about Mr Panayi’s alleged “failure to maintain the block and deal with mould and damp, drainage problems, health and safety issues over electical cabling and gas meters which were not compliant”.
Mr Panayi, who owns about 40 properties in The Cally, later told the Gazette he wasn’t aware of any problems with the gas meters or electrical wires there, and pointed out he does not personally manage the property in question.
The proposal for the roof extension in the Barnsbury Conservation Area had been recommended for approval by the council’s planning officers, but was brought to committee on November 10 because of 14 objections from neighbours.
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Although the issues they raised are not strictly related to planning, councillors sitting on the planning committee agreed drainage problems could have caused by the overdevelopment and density of the building, which has 21 residential units “served by just two corridors and two street front doors”.
They refused the application unanimously on the grounds of overdevelopment, its design and because mansards are not generally accepted in conservation areas – although several other properties in Caledonian Road have been given permission to build them.
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“They [the neighbours who complained] are not immediate tenants of this building, and if they were, he [Mr Panayi] would be evicting them for saying the things they have said,” alleged Cllr Paul Convery, adding: “That’s the kind of guy he is.”
He continued: “After an infamous TV documentary that aired in 2012 there was an extraordinary outburst of public concern about the way in which this applicant has developed literally hundreds of small flats - under shops, behind shops, above shops, absolutely everywhere - and particular public concern was raised by the extraordinary assertion Mr Panayi made on television, and I quote, he “builds first, asks permission later”.
“I’m pleased he’s modified his business model and we have an application before us today, in advance before beginning construction work.
That’s an advance.
“He is, I’m sorry to say, a notorious rogue landlord.”
In response, Mr Panayi, who was featured in the BBC documentary The Secret History of our Streets, told the Gazette: “Paul Convey is wrong to claim that I would have evicted tenants for making objections.”
He said the claim that he “developed hundreds of small flats under shops” is false.
“I refurbished existing flats under shops in the eight properties in Caledonian Road,” he said.
“I licensed under the house in multiple occupation regulations by Islington Council.
“Notorious rogue landlords do not qualify to hold a license.
“The new development is for one two-bed flat, and two additional people making a total number of 33 people [in the block] will not be an over development.”
Mr Panayi’s architect, George Kounnou, added: “From an architectural point of view we did everything we could on the basis of what the planning officers wanted, but that wasn’t sufficient for the council members.
“You can only go so far and you can comply with the requirements and at the end of the day the application is dismissed because the committee members have a view about the applicant, and I find this disheartening.
“Andrew provides accommodation for people who need to be in that part of town and close to the city, who can’t pay huge rents, so in that way he’s doing a good service.
“Sometimes students come who don’t want to pay the earth and who want a place where they can just come back to sleep.
“I’ve known Andrew for over 20 years, and I think if he didn’t know he could rent them he woudn’t build them.”
Mr Panayi is appealing the planning decision.