A Sevenoaks District councillor has been investigated by the planning department after letting out part of his house without planning permission.

Cabinet officer Tony Searles, portfolio holder for finance, was granted planning permission in 1988 for the upper floor of his garage in Egerton Avenue to be converted to a living area.

However, the terms of the planning permission stated this was for ancillary use only and did not allow the ex-leader of Swanley Town Council to rent it out.

News Shopper:

On October 25 2013, the annexed property was listed on Rightmove by Mann Lettings and a let was agreed, according to its website.

The tenants’ gas, electric, water and council tax bills were to be paid directly to the landlord at £100pcm in line with the rent, the advert states.

A spokeswoman for Mann lettings confirmed that they listed the property for rent in 2013 on rightmove.

As a consequence of the investigation, carried out by Sevenoaks Council’s planning department on April 11, Cllr Searles must now reapply for the use of the living area to be changed.

It is legal to apply for planning permission retrospectively and because this is a planning matter, the planning legislation does not include provisions for financial penalties, the council claims.

A spokesman for Sevenoaks District Council said: “Following an investigation by our planning department, the landowner, Cllr Searles, has been invited to submit a planning application for a change of use for the living area to allow it to be used as a residential dwelling.

“We anticipate an application will be lodged in the coming weeks and will be considered in the usual way.

“As with all applications from our councillors, it will go before our Development Control Committee (DCC) for a decision.”

“Cllr Searles is the council’s cabinet member for finance.

“He does not have any responsibilities for planning issues nor does he sit on the DCC.”

Cllr Searles was unavailable for comment.