A retrospective planning application to increase the number of occupants in a converted Victorian power station was rejected, even though people had already moved in.

Harrow Council’s planning committee refused permission for the changes at the Power House, in West Street, Harrow-on-the-Hill after legal advice.

Developer the Jaspar Group thought it had secured ‘prior approval’ to change two flats at the site from studios to two-person, one-bed properties – and had completed much of the work.

This would have increased the maximum number of occupants at the 14-flat development by two.

But, as “non-material amendments”, the changes were deemed to not be in line with the Town and Country Planning Order.

The site is also in the Harrow-on-the-Hill Village Conservation area.

Cllr Stephen Greek said he was “very concerned” about those who were already living in the flats but was assured that they would be supported following the decision.

Cllr Honey Jamie, who represents Harrow-on-the-Hill ward, said she was delighted with the outcome and called for greater protection in the area.

She said: “I can’t overstate the importance of how this is handled – the Harrow-on-the-Hill community are, justifiably, concerned about this.

“Enforcement must take place immediately. The developer has already got away with too much. The brutal destruction of a 19th century site is frankly outrageous.

“We need to protect this area of outstanding beauty and support residents who would otherwise have to live with the consequences.”

Cllr Greek added that the decision “shows the value of the planning committee”, while Cllr Marilyn Ashton said she was relieved to see the situation “corrected”.

The main building at the Power House and an adjacent building known as the Cottage have been redeveloped by Jaspar Homes.

Previously housing offices, they have been transformed into a complex of flats.

Harrow Council explained that the applicant has exercised its right to appeal and any enforcement will be influenced by the outcome of this process.