Three-bedroom flat found hidden in basement of off-licence in Kilburn
PUBLISHED: 20:38 04 August 2015 | UPDATED: 10:21 05 August 2015
We've all heard of beds in sheds but one off-licence owner in Kilburn decided to go underground to create an illegal home.
Instead of wines and spirits being stored in the cellar of Arada mini market in Malvern Road, there was a three-bedroom flat instead.
The shock discovery was made by licensing officers from Brent Council who were inspecting the premises after the cheeky owner submitted an application to sell alcohol around the clock – through a night hatch.
Undeterred, Hamid Raza told the Times he will apply for a 24-hour licence again as “other businesses have it so why can’t he have it” and “people will just go elsewhere”.
However he was tight-lipped about the secret home he carved out .
He told the Times: “I don’t want to say anything.”
Papers submitted to Brent Council’s licensing committee last week reveal inspectors found the grime-riddled dwelling as they searched the premises in June.
Susana Figueiredo, licensing officer, describes chancing upon the cramped apartment after asking shop staff to show her the alcohol storage basement.
Following a brief stand-off during which a shop assistant named as Ahmed Naseef “became very shaky” and started stuttering, the basement was opened to reveal a confused man emerging from a warren of underground rooms including a kitchenette and a shower room.
In her report, Ms Figueiredo states: “There was a very strong, stale smell that came from the basement as I moved towards it.
“When I reached the bottom of the steps…the smell was unbearable and I had to cover my nose and mouth.
“There was also an area in the corridor where food had clearly been cooked, this looked hazardous.”
Despite the discovery of numerous beds, clothing and a washing machine, Ms Figueiredo claims Mr Naseef insisted the basement was “just somewhere for staff to go down to eat”.
But she added: “I believe that [the basement] was in fact being used as three-bedroom flat.”
Brent Council have confirmed Mr Raza had not been given permission to convert the basement into a residential premises and no Council Tax had been paid.
A spokeswoman for Brent Council said: “Following the discovery, the matter was forwarded to the council’s housing and planning teams to investigate further.”