Cheshire East Council will have to pay the full costs for a planning appeal after the Inspector decided the authority had "behaved unreasonably" when determining an application to build a house in Wilmslow, which resulted in an unnecessary and wasted expense.
The applicant appealed against the Council's refusal of his application to build a 3 bedroom house at 24 Welton Drive. Whilst the Inspector agreed with the Council's decision and dismissed the appeal, he did not accept the reasons given to justify the delay in determining the application and said the Council should have responded much sooner with its concerns about the proposal and advised exactly what changes were required to resolve them.
The Inspectors report says the application was registered with the Council in November 2014 but it was not until 6th January 2015, shortly before the expiry of the 8-week determination period, that the Council requested a time extension to allow it to consider the proposal. An exchange of emails then took place in the early part of March 2015 which resulted in the submission of amended plans that sought to address the Council's concerns raised at that time. Further revised plans were sent to the Council in late May 2015, which the Council appears not to have received. An appeal was then lodged on non-determination grounds in early June 2015.
The Planning Inspector continues "The Council states that feedback on the proposal was provided over the telephone and by email. However, the evidence before me also indicates a series of emails from the appellant to the Council over a protracted time period that repeatedly sought the Council's response on the proposed scheme and the amendments made to it. There appears to have been little indication from the Council of exactly when the application would be determined."
Full costs were awarded against Cheshire East Council because the Planning Inspector felt that the appeal could have been avoided if there had been "a greater level of communication and 'solution finding' with the applicant".
The costs of the appeal proceedings are to be assessed by the Senior Courts Costs Office if not agreed.