DIRECTORS of an illegal airport car park have been ordered to pay more than £50,000 for turning land into 800 spaces.

Imran Shahid and Tariq Wasi, the directors of Airport Parking Limited, were prosecuted after converting land at Lower Hollow Copse in Copthorne into an unauthorised car park for Gatwick in 2014.

They stored the cars of holidaymakers travelling from the airport but did not get the necessary planning permission.

A number of people complained so Mid Sussex District Council’s planning enforcement team issued a stop notice.

The directors ignored the notice and continued to trade at the site so the authority took the pair to court.

Mr Shahid and Mr Wasi pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the stop notice. They were each handed a fine of £3,000 at Chichester Crown Court on October 29 and their company was fined £100. They were also told to pay a £120 victim surcharge and the district council’s £9,500 cost.

The pair will also have to pay nearly £34,578 under the proceeds of crime act because the pair had benefitted for 11 days of business after ignoring the council notice.

In separate legal proceedings, the company pleaded guilty in August to eight offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations act because the website said cars would be parked securely when they were left unlocked in fields.

They were fined £6,000 by Crawley Magistrates Court for the offences.

Councillor Andrew MacNaughton, the district council’s cabinet member for planning, said: “This is the first time that we have used the proceeds of crime act and it has sent a clear message. You will not be able to profit from ignoring planning regulations.

“Planning laws are in place for a reason. They protect the local environment from inappropriate development and give the people who will be affected by the scheme a chance to have their say. I hope this prosecution shows that if you try to bypass the planning system we will take action and pursue the matter through the courts if necessary.”