A large fine has been handed to a curry shop owner for having illicit works done to a Grade II listed building.

On January 10 Epping Forest District Council was told work was being done to the Spice Masala restaurant in Ongar.

Officers went round later that day and found both the front and sides of the building were being worked on despite no permission having been sought.

They posted a note through the letter box urging leaseholder Syed Hussain to stop the works and call the council, which he did the next day.

Despite the explanatory ring officers arrived on January 12 to discover more construction had been carried out, including the removal of a 19th century window which specifically contributed to the architectural and historic value of the building.

Mr Hussain was also on site and directing the works.

When the business owner and his builders Bradley Walker and John Whitbread appeared in Colchester Magistrates' Court on February 21 he said he passed on the council's cease and desist message to his contractors, who denied the claim.

They also said Mr Hussain had told them he had permission for the work to be carried out.

All the defendants agreed that they knew permission was required and that it had not been obtained.

The Council’s Senior Conservation Officer informed the court that some of the work carried out would have been approved had a proper application been made prior to the work being commenced.

However, the removal of the 19th century window would not have been given approval.

The Magistrates found all three defendants guilty.

Mr Hussain was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay a contribution towards the prosecution costs of £1,500 and a victim surcharge of £100.

They told Mr Walker and Mr Whitbread that working under instruction was not a defence and they had been negligent and working for gain.

Both were fined a total of £800 and ordered to pay a contribution towards the council’s prosecution costs of £1,300 and victim surcharge of £80.