THE OWNER of an historic former cottage which was demolished without planning permission - has promised to restore it back to its original glory after getting the green light to start rebuilding work.

Councillors granted permission for the reconstruction of Truffles Cottage in Wanstead High Street at a planning meeting on Monday night - nearly a year after it was pulled down by contractors working on behalf of Abdul Rafeeq, who bought it in 2008.

The decision comes despite the fact the authority is still due to take Mr Rafeeq to court in June for breaching planning rules by knocking the building down without consent.

The cottage's destruction caused outrage among residents in Wanstead, but Mr Rafeeq has always maintained that the structure was dangerously unstable and that parts of it collapsed on their own when work began to rebuild the upper floor and replace the roof in 2008.

The 52-year-old, of Aldersbrook Road, Wanstead, told the Guardian that he never had any intention of knocking down the property.

He said: "I bought it at an auction and had no idea how bad a state it was in.

"We had planning permission to rebuild the upper floor, and when we took out the walls and took off the roof the lower walls simply gave in.

"We found that one of the walls was leaning up to six inches outwards. There were cracks so big it let daylight through.

"I bought the property because of the way it looked and where it was. Why would I choose to demolish it simply to rebuild it the same way again?

"This application is exactly the same one that I submitted the last time so I don't know why (the council) didn't just pass it then."

Mr Rafeeq said the former cottage would be rebuilt to its original design.

He said: "It will look more like it did originally when it's rebuilt than when I bought it.

"Lots of changes had been made to the building before I bought it, but we will show its original details."

Mr Rafeeq was originally due to appear at Redbridge Magistrates Court for a hearing on the planning enforcement issue on Wednesday, but this date has now been changed to Thursday June 24.

A council spokeswoman said: "The decisions made by the council's regional planning committee west allow the building to be restored to its original condition on the ground floor and for work on the first floor to proceed as per previous planning permission.

"The decisions do not prejudice the legal action we have launched against the developer. We believe the original demolition of the building was unlawful and the prosecution is being pursued on that basis."