C2C Planning win partial award of costs for failure to substantiate the reason for refusal

Circular 03/09 provides guidance on costs applications in planning appeals, and advises that, irrespective of the outcome of the appeal, costs may only be awarded against a party who has behaved unreasonably and thereby caused another party to incur or waste expense unnecessarily.

In this case, the decision to refuse permission was taken by the Council contrary to the
recommendation given in the planning officer’s report. Paragraph B20 of the annex to the Circular recognises that planning authorities are not bound to accept the recommendations of their officers. It continues to say, however, that if officers’ professional or technical advice is not followed, authorities will need to show reasonable planning grounds for taking a contrary decision and produce relevant evidence on appeal to support the decision in all respects.

The Council’s appeal statement contained just 14 paragraphs in justification of its decision, where one paragraph related to uncontentious highway matters and only one paragraph directly addressed the single reason for refusal.

The Inspector agreed.  “The Council’s main points regarding character and appearance are confined to paragraph 5.12 of their Appeal Statement which refers to the form of the roof and the pattern of fenestration. However, whilst it is reasonable to make points concisely, very little evidence is put forward to explain why the form of the development would be harmful to a landscape, settlement, building or street scene and thereby conflict with the policy as alleged in the Decision Notice. As such, the Council failed to adequately substantiate their reasons for refusal in terms of character and appearance.”

It is important to read the Council’s Appeal Statement and compare it to every single aspect of the reason for refusal and/or its cited policies.  If something isn’t covered, or glossed over, consider the application for a full or partial award of costs.  c2c Planning can assist in that assessment and make the application for you.

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