Taxpayers to foot the bill as Council 'behaved unreasonably' over car wash appeal

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Cheshire East Council has lost an appeal against their refusal to grant planning permission for the change in use of a former petrol filling station to a hand car wash and valet business.

Shines appealed to the Planning Inspectorate over the committee's refusal of their plans for two car wash bays - consisting of a spraying area and a valeting area - at the site of the former Kings Arms Service Station on Alderley Road in Wilmslow.

They company were also awarded full costs because the Council failed to submit a statement in support of its reasons for refusing planning permission within the given timescales.

Despite being recommended for approval by the Planning Officer, the Northern Planning Committee refused planning permission in July 2017 on the grounds that it would be detrimental to the character of the area and not enhance this important gateway site to Wilmslow. Additionally, the committee decided the proposed development would be contrary to the interests of highway safety because of the potential for cars waiting to access the site queuing back onto the public highway.

However, Shines appealed on the grounds that "There would be no harm to the character and appearance of the area, neighbouring amenity or highway safety. The proposal would comply with the development plan and in accordance with paragraph 14 of the NPPF, should be approved without delay. There are no material considerations to indicate otherwise."

The Planning Inspectorate allowed the appeal, stating the following reasons:

  • The use of the site as a car wash and valeting business would not be out of place given its planning history and the nature of the adjacent land uses.
  • Neither those operations nor the nature or volume of vehicle movements generated would be such as to have a significant adverse effect on the overall character of the area.
  • Its redevelopment and re-use would be of positive benefit in removing the adverse effect that the vacant site currently has on the appearance of this section of the road.
  • None of the proposed buildings or structures would be inappropriate in the context of the surrounding uses when seen from Alderley Road. From Knutsford Road and from residential properties on Donkey Lane they would largely be screened by the intervening buildings and stored materials on the Travis Perkins site. There would, accordingly, be no material effect on the character or appearance of these streets or of the wider area of Fulshaw Park.
  • Based on this evidence there would be limited risk of vehicles queuing on the public highway to access the site. I also accept the appellant's argument that car wash facilities are, to some extent, self-regulating in that, if customers see a long queue, they would be likely either to go to a different facility or come back at a quieter time.
  • I consider that the nature and level of vehicle movements into and out of the site would not cause significant risks to cyclists or to pedestrians using the footway. I note that the bus stop is used by school children and other users but, given its location roughly midway the proposed vehicle entrance and exit points and the generous width of the footway, I do not consider that the proposal would lead to a significant risk to the safety of those using the bus stop.

The applicant Mr Isa Dajci also appealed for a full award of costs against Cheshire East Council. Irrespective of the outcome of the appeal, costs may only be awarded against a party who has behaved unreasonably and thereby caused the party applying for costs to incur unnecessary or wasted expense in the appeal process.

However, a full award of costs was granted because Cheshire East Council failed to submit a Statement of Case in support of its reasons for refusal within the timescales set out. The Council sought to submit a statement after the relevant date but, because the Planning Inspectorate received notification of this request after he'd completed his site visit, the statement was not accepted as late evidence as it would have delayed the issue of the decision.

Paul Singleton, Planning Inspectorate, said "The Council is entitled not to accept the advice of its professional officers and to reach a decision on a planning application which is contrary to the recommendation of those officers. When it does so it must be able to show that it had reasonable grounds for taking that decision and must produce evidence at the appeal stage to substantiate each of its reasons for refusal of planning permission. By not submitting a Statement of Case the Council has failed to explain why it took a decision contrary to the professional advice it received and failed to substantiate the reasons for the refusal of planning permission.

"I find that these failures amount to unreasonable behaviour on the Council's part and that, had the officers' advice been followed, the appeal could have been avoided entirely. That unreasonable behaviour has, accordingly, resulted in the appellant incurring unnecessary and wasted expenditure in submitting the appeal and related evidence. A full award of costs is, therefore, justified."

Tags:
Alderley Road, Appeals, Car Wash, Planning Applications
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Nick Jones
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 1:45 pm
Another reason why CEC should be put into Special Measures;
Simple stuff ignored, and its the Notorious Planning Dept again !!

Why did the Planning Dept fail to submit a statement in support of its reasons for refusing planning permission within the given timescales.??

This isn't Rocket Science .. its simple due process !!
Incompetent.

And our Wilmslow CEC Councilors have to say what about this ??.............. Silence..........
Oliver Romain
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 1:47 pm
No surprise here. Councillors voting with the local nimbies and the tax payer foots the bill.
Nigel Slater
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 2:28 pm
Are you a local resident Oliver?
John Garrard
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 3:21 pm
So are we getting a car wash in Wilmslow or not?
Lisa Reeves
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 3:29 pm
I would presume so John,

Given that the company (Shines) went to the time and expense (the cost of which will all be paid by Cheshire East Council now) to take this to appeal and won I would expect their intention is to proceed with their plans for a car wash and and valet business on Alderley Road.
Jackie Pass
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 3:36 pm
Sorry Oliver but I think the problem at Cheshire East is more complex than that. Firstly, there has to be a good look at the quality of reports submitted to the Planning Committees. I was struck this week at how good a report was to the Southern Planning Committee where both sides of the case had been given adequate attention. This makes the job of the Planning Committees easier. Secondly, Cheshire East needs not to be offering "consultancy" planning services. (I am not talking about pre-applications), it uses up staff time. Thirdly, the need to look carefully at the use of "flexible time". Cheshire East was actually praised for this, but the upshot of over-use of flexible time is that work simply falls into the cracks. Fourthly, there are the management and IT issues which could be used to make their life easier. Finally, there is also the issue that most local government and government departments seem to keep to "school holidays" which means that work goes unattended for periods of time. Anyone who has been self employed knows that this is not practicable.

I have to say that I have been struck by how close to the deadline some Appeal statements have been submitted, but I also know that this maybe because the Appeals Casework Portal seems to be regularly taken down for "essential maintenance".
Mark Goldsmith
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 4:04 pm
There is a reason CE Planning Department is the 2nd most complained about in the UK.

Still, our Conservative Cllrs tell us there is nothing to worry about and it is all okay.


Which worries me even more...
Ryan Dance
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 5:46 pm
What a joke. Waste of money. This application should never have been contested. It was an esso petrol station.....it’s on a busy main road. I rest my case.

Then planning try and stop this development but let other stuff through.

It’s absolutely absurd.
Janet A Taylor
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 6:05 pm
Another betrayal by the planning department at CEC who don’t listen to residents and council tax payers views!
Rod Menlove
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 6:46 pm
Those who attended the northern planning meeting will recollect the campaign against this most unwelcome application. (And let us not forget that they withdrew their initial application). Those of us who spoke against the proposal succeeded in persuading the committee with a 10:2 vote against, despite the approval recommended by the planning officers. The objections were all based on ‘planning matters’ namely road safety and adverse impact on neighbouring properties.
Given that the officer report recommended approval that the councillors overturned, an appeal was inevitable and a second campaign of submissions to the Planning Inspector was organised.
As the ward councillor involved in both campaigns I am bitterly disappointed at the PI decision. The fact that Planning failed to send in their submission before the deadline is inexcusable. I have already made known to the head of planning and to Cabinet members that this is unacceptable.
I apologise to all those residents who have voiced their very legitimate concerns for this specific service failure.
The task that I will now undertake is to ensure that the applicants do not stray from the conditions imposed within this PI approval.
Oliver Romain
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 6:49 pm
It’s not the planning officer’s fault. They recommend for approval and the councillors rejected, without good reason, effectively passing the buck knowing full well it would be appealed and passed at greater cost to the taxpayer.
The Stanley Green car wash is now £9, so there is definitely room for more competition.
Martin Kitchin
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 7:45 pm
Hello Jackie,

I know the supermarket case that the Southern Planning Committee (SPC) were looking at in Crewe, and I too read the papers you refer to.

Like you, I too was struck by the quality of the report that was submitted by the planing case officer to SPC. Unbiased, accurate and what's more, consistent with extant Cheshire East plans.

............................


Hello Ryan,

This weekend, doubters need to travel up to the similar car wash set up next to The Waggon & Horses in Handforth and see the impact on traffic flows.

I'm not sure you see that it's accurate to draw parallels between the old Esso & what "Shines" propose for the site.

The last time we remember cars queueing on the road to get into what was the Esso fuel station was during the 1970s fuel crisis. Different customer demographic and use pattern to a car valet.

Very sad that Cheshire East planning weren't able to get the papers in to the Planning Inspectorate. Too late now. . .
Graham Peters
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 7:55 pm
Fantastic - somewhere for all the new residents moving into the new ‘estate’ opposite Royal London to have their cars washed.
It’s a mess, common sense has not prevailed - and Robinson’s Brewery who ultimately own the land should hang their head in shame.
Rod Menlove
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 8:02 pm
The councillors rejected with good reason as above 'based on planning matters, namely road safety and adverse impact on neighbouring properties'.
Jackie Pass
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 8:18 pm
Oliver - expect that people will still be paying £9 at this car wash. The Inspector advised expensive conditions. It has has restricted hours of usage, needs a Sustainable Drainage System, an overspray screen, and a whole list of conditions which will now not be possible to wriggle out of. So yes he gave permission, but at considerable expense. A bit of a pyrrhic victory. All it needs now is the Enforcement Department to ensure that the conditions are carried out to the letter.
Oliver Romain
Saturday 3rd February 2018 at 12:21 am
Rod just accept that your decision was politically motivated at the expense of taxpayers. If you did your job it would have cost us less. Or are you above the law?
Nick Jones
Saturday 3rd February 2018 at 10:22 am
@ J A Taylor.. You just about sum it up !.. clearly no explanation from Cllrs why the second most complained about planning dept in the country failed to submit a statement in support of its reasons for refusing planning permission within the given timescales. Negligent or Deliberate ?? Bluster and Deception ?? This is a simple matter that needs investigation. There appears no excuse for missing simple deadlines.
Rod Menlove
Saturday 3rd February 2018 at 11:40 am
Oliver Romain
Local residents contacted me with their opposition to the original application and the appeal. I agreed with their views and acted accordingly
Nick Jones
'The fact that Planning failed to send in their submission before the deadline is inexcusable. I have already made known to the head of planning and Cabinet members that this is unacceptable.'
45 complaints (many from developers) and only ONE upheld
Oliver Romain
Saturday 3rd February 2018 at 2:40 pm
Rod you could just apologise for ignoring the planning officer and the waste of taxpayers money.
Vince Chadwick
Saturday 3rd February 2018 at 4:07 pm
Oliver, you could just accept the democratic process that Councillor Menlove followed. And you could also accept his point that Planning failing to send in their submission before the deadline is inexcusable.

It's Planning's incompetence in failing to follow simple process that has landed us with the bill for costs. Will anyone actually be held responsible for that inexcusable omission? Will it come up on someone's annual review (assuming they exist in the Planning Department) with consequences for the miscreant(s)?

I really would like to know.
Ryan Dance
Sunday 4th February 2018 at 7:34 am
Martin,
Different customer demographic? Use pattern? Cars entering for fuel. Cars exiting on use.
Cars entering for cleanse. Cars exiting on use.

Average stay pattern likely to be higher. But still movements of cars!

I very much doubt this statement is backed up by any evidence.

parallels .... aren’t you doing exactly the same thing?
Martin Kitchin
Sunday 4th February 2018 at 8:10 am
Hello Ryan Dance,

This is about the inevitable adverse road safety impact from the approved, Kings Arms car wash.

You say :-

" . . .I very much doubt this statement is backed up by any evidence"

So you didn't get to look at the cars queuing outside at Wagon & Horses as suggested then ?

Incidentally, there are similar problems around the corner on Earl Road & that site is 5 x bigger than Kings Arms.

All the best,

Martin
Ryan Dance
Sunday 4th February 2018 at 8:35 am
Did you have any evidence on customer demographic? And use pattern?

It’s a busy main road. It was a petrol station. Cars entering and cars exiting.

I rest my case
Martin Kitchin
Sunday 4th February 2018 at 10:47 am
Hello Ryan Dance,

Yes the evidence is there. Up the road. Just gone past on way to B&Q.

Worth a look.

All the best,

Martin
Dave Cash
Monday 5th February 2018 at 12:54 am
Was CEC lack of response intentional or misguided?
Ryan Dance
Monday 5th February 2018 at 6:24 am
Hello Martin Kitchin,

Looked ok when I drove past at about 1pm.

Realities vs perceptions!
Martin Kitchin
Monday 5th February 2018 at 5:08 pm
Really Ryan Dance?

Try a weekend maybe and I'll wave at you as we both get stuck in the ensuing traffic jam. (LOL)

Mines the red Renault.

Yours ?

All the best,

Martin
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 7th February 2018 at 4:37 pm
CEC Planning officers approved the car wash; many objected, residents, WT Council, Ward Councillor etc... application rejected.

Appeal lodged.

CEC Planning Officers neglected to send in documents on time; appeal granted, CEC Planners get their way, against the wishes of residents... etc, etc.

Were any of the same people in CEC Planning involved in both approving the application and forgetting to send in the papers?
Clive Cooksey
Thursday 8th February 2018 at 8:44 am
Bring it on. At least its not another charity shop, telephone shop or empty shop. Currently I drive to Monks Heath for the Shines branch there, as they are just brilliant in making my car look like its had a show room finish in no time at all.

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