What a start to 2018!

As a small business in today’s almost 24 hr society it is sometimes impossible to retreat from the technological perks that assist us in the working week.  When we are enjoying time with friends and family over the Christmas period, taking a photo of the “Game of Life” battle at the dining room table, an email notification pops up on the phone.  That little red circle is frustratingly difficult to ignore for the rest of the holiday so, you open your email app and, there it is, an email from the Planning Inspectorate…

You know by the subject line that it is the appeal decision you have been waiting for.  Do you or don’t you – open it, that is.

You open it.

You scan for the magic words.

APPEAL ALLOWED!

You open the cost award decision.

You scan for the magic words.

FULL AWARD OF COSTS GRANTED!

What a start to 2018 for our client, his bank balance and C2C Planning Consultants!

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Talk to us about your Game of Life strategy where it involves property development.

(P.S.  I won, but I lost at Game of Life.  I was first to the winning post but not rich enough.  Life imitates art?)

Happy C2C client awarded some of her costs back for having to pursue an appeal

Council’s need to be careful when pandering to objectors when refusing planning permission or relying on “cut and paste” exercises from previous reasons for refusal. Continue reading Happy C2C client awarded some of her costs back for having to pursue an appeal

£12m paid out by councils after losing planning appeals

While I am currently “coming to an agreement” with a LPA in regard to a partial award of appeal costs, I was quite astounded to read about this £12 million figure.

Property consultancy Daniel Watney LLP sent out Freedom of Information requests to the 418 principal local authorities across the UK, asking them to list costs awarded from appeal proceedings between 2010/11 and 2015/16.

Two-hundred and seventeen councils responded, with 178 stating that they had paid out over the past six years. This, according to the research, totalled £11,965,077.17.
The top 10 authorities paying the highest total sum:

1. Cornwall Council – £981,332.40

2. Derby City Council – £866,975.00

3. Halton Borough Council – £721,470.48

4. Stratford-on-Avon District Council – £557,818.84

5. South Gloucestershire Council – £505,544.28

6. Basingstoke and Dean Borough council – £468,694.60

7. Horsham District Council – £442,969.00

8. Cambridge City Council – £311,175.08

9. Solihull – £306,563.00

10. Cheshire – £260,197.61
Whilst I might have been astounded by the headline figure, I wasn’t astounded that Cornwall were top of the naughty list.  No pressies from Santa this year!

 

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.

Narrowest house in London shoehorned into gap just six foot wide must be demolished

The owner of the infamous property that shot up in a residential street in Leyton that was dubbed by the national press as ‘London’s narrowest house’ has lost his appeal against Waltham Forest Council’s decision to enforce the removal of the structure.

The property that was squeezed between a gap in a row of terraced housing was constructed largely from plywood, replacing a garage in early May last year.

Enforcement officers served a temporary stop followed by a full stop notice and enforcement notice requiring the owner to remove all the self-containment works including the bathroom, kitchen and internal partitioning. In addition, the enforcement notice required the owner to restore the garage to its original condition before the unauthorised works were carried out.

"I do not consider that the structure ... is of a high standard of design..."

“I do not consider that the structure…is of a high standard of design…it looks singularly out of place, in an area that has maintained its late nineteenth/early twentieth century character remarkably intact, and I conclude that the design of the structure is wholly unsatisfactory”

The owner appealed against the enforcement notice. On 28 April 2014 the Planning Inspectorate dismissed the appeal and upheld the Council’s enforcement notice in full.  “Although the unauthorised works carried out were considerable, they seem to have been implemented within a comparatively short space of time. As there is nobody currently living on the premises, there seems no sound reason why the building cannot be restored to its previous condition equally quickly. Three months should, in my experience, be sufficient, at a time of the year noted for lengthening daylight and warmer weather, for the requirements of the enforcement notice to be complied with…”

Not only that, the owner has to pay the Council’s costs.  Rather cuttingly, the Inspector noted “In the appeals made on grounds (d) and (e), the onus is on the appellant to make out his case on the balance of probabilities. The evidence submitted on both grounds was so thin that neither had any realistic prospect of success. Pleading both grounds in the first place and then providing no evidence to substantiate bald assertions amounts to unreasonable behaviour giving rise to the unnecessary expense to the Council of the time required to defend these grounds.”

Appellants (and Councils) need to substantiate their cases at appeal.  The award of costs is a real threat.  We have successfully obtained a partial award of costs against a Council for doing just that!  See our post here.