Costs award as Fenland Council criticised for wrongly refusing homes plan

COSTS have been awarded against Fenland Council after its planning committee was found guilty by a Government inspector of “unreasonable behaviour” in rejecting a scheme for ten houses in March.

Government inspector Richard High has granted developers Grosvenor Partnerships “full awards of costs” following their successful appeal to be allowed to build the homes in Queen Street Close.

Mr High said officers had recommended the scheme for approval but the committee resolved to refuse the application.

While this was clearly within the council’s rights, he said, they still had to show reasonable grounds for taking a contrary decision and produce evidence at appeal to support that decision.

He said the reasons put forward “lacked any specific explanation of how the design and layout are deficient” – one reason put forward by councillors for refusal.

Mr High was also not happy the council had described the homes as “unimaginative and bland” since they offered no explanation as to why this conclusion had been reached.

In his judgement Mr High said the evidence presented by the council was unsupported by any objective analysis “and provides no clear guidance as to the specific aspects of the scheme which led to the council’s decision.

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“Indeed there is an element of contradiction as the reason for refusal refers to overdevelopment whereas the appeal statement refers only to design.

“As a result of the local planning authority’s failure to clearly justify its reasons for refusing the application, the appellant has incurred the costs of making an appeal.”

Mr High has now ordered Fenland Council to settle with Grosvenor.