A developer has been accused of "taking the law into its own hands" by demolishing buildings around a popular garage despite not having planning permission.

Greathall Ltd has begun to tear down parts of the site in South Norwood on which it plans to build 11 flats and two shops - even though its planning permission expired without all conditions being met.

The company has been locked in a 12-year battle with mechanic Richard Hough, whose car repair business Autoclutch sits within the site.

Last month a judge at Croydon County Court ordered him to vacate his premises by August 29, a decision he has applied to fight in the Court of Appeal.

Now Greathall has begun demolition work on neighbouring plots despite failing to carry out checks for contamination on the land before its planning permission expired on Sunday.

Croydon Guardian:

Richard Hough, owner of Autoclutch

A council officer advised the work was unauthorised, but allowed it to continue.

Mr Hough said: "It is a disgrace, unbelievable. This council administration has taken the gloves off of planning permission and told developers do what they want."

A spokesman for Croydon Council said: "Council planning officers are monitoring activity on the site and are in regular conversations with the developer.

"At present the work is being done without full planning consent, however we have had assurances the outstanding conditions on the application will be dealt with very soon."

Coun Jason Perry, shadow cabinet member for planning, said developers had "taken the law into their own hands. 

He added: "This Labour council has truly demonstrated that now that they are in charge developers can do exactly as they please in this town, flouting whatever rules that may stand in their way."