Costs awarded against ‘unreasonable’ Fenland planners who ignored advice and snubbed homes plan


- Credit: Archant

UNREASONABLE Fenland planners were wrong to ignore officers’ advice and refuse permission for two homes to be built in Murrow.

That is the verdict of planning inspector Elaine Worthington who has overturned the decision on appeal and awarded full costs to the applicant Monica Barnes.

Officers recommended that Mrs Barnes’ plan to build two homes in Back Road should be approved - but Fenland District Council’s planning committee thought otherwise.

They threw out the application in July last year but Mrs Barnes has finally won permission for the development on appeal. She will also be compensated by the council for her “wasted expense” in the planning process after a successful claim for costs.

The council claimed the proposal would be “out of character with the surrounding area” and could set a precedent for the development of further garden land which might appear “squeezed in”.

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But Mrs Worthington said “no substantiated evidence was submitted to support or justify these concerns”.

Her report said: “The planning committee refused the application contrary to the advice of their professional officers who had produced a written report finding the proposal to be of a scale, design and layout which would respect the surrounding development.

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“Authorities are not bound to accept the recommendations of their officers, but if their professional or technical advice is not followed, then reasonable planning grounds for taking a contrary decision need to be provided, supported by relevant evidence.”

Mrs Worthington added that “recently completed semi-detached houses next door provide inspiration for development on the appeal site, and provide a good example of how the proposal would work”.

The development was granted subject to several conditions, including that the houses should not be occupied until an area has been drained and surfaced for car-parking.

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