Architect fined £2,000 for poor planning advice and delays

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The ARB’s professional conduct committee (PCC) has issued Toyin Adetola Oduse of SE2 Creative Ltd with a £2,000 penalty order for poor planning advice and undue delay

Toyin Adetola Oduse of SE2 Creative Ltd was issued with a penalty order of £2,000 following a finding of unacceptable professional conduct (UPC).

In January 2017, Oduse had been instructed on a fixed price contract to build an extension to his client’s family home, based on another architect’s planning application and design, which was to take an estimated four months to complete.

It was later agreed there would be an extra payment for a larger extension, the changes did not have planning consent. The client’s neighbours objected after work began in January 2017 and in March 2017 a council planning investigations officer later conducted a site visit.

In April 2017, Toyin Adetola Oduse submitted a planning application to regularise the position and work continued until it was subsequently refused in July 2017.

In December 2017 an appeal (not submitted by Oduse) was also refused. A new planning application, submitted by the original architect, was approved in December 2018 and Oduse was asked to return to finish the work.

By September 2019, the work was not finished and the client had paid £44,950 to Oduse against a fixed price of £35,000 (plus £2,400 for the larger extension).

At this time, the client complained to ARB.

Allegations

It was alleged that Toyin Adetola Oduse did not provide his client with adequate advice in relation to planning, and that he failed to deliver a professional service to his client without undue delay, contrary to Standards 2.1 and 6.2 of the Architects Code.

The PCC found both the allegations proved. It stated that, whatever his involvement in the project, Oduse had a professional obligation to spell out the risk to his client of building without planning consent, and that to rely on a contractual omission of obligation was unprofessional.

The PCC highlighted a series of delays throughout the project, most notably from December 2017 – October 2019. It took letters from a solicitor before the architect returned to site in June 2019, and work had otherwise stopped altogether in July 2017. The client was forced to accept the architect would not return to complete the work. At the time, Oduse accepted no responsibility for the difficult and costly situation the client had suffered for 3 years, to the extent of blaming the client and accusing him of being untruthful.

PCC decision

When considering sanction, the PCC took into account that Oduse had no previous adverse regulatory findings in a lengthy career. It noted that, following the decision, Toyin Adetola Oduse accepted he had fallen short of his professional obligations, apologised and stated he had learned a lot from the hearing.

Nevertheless, the PCC recognised the architect had little or no insight until he had read the decision. Paying careful regard to the Sanctions Guidance, the PCC concluded a penalty order of £2,000 was the appropriate sanction.

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