Fenland District Council must pay partial costs to applicant after failing to make a decision on home plan in Coates

Site from the gated entrance

Site from the gated entrance - Credit: Archant

Fenland District Council has been ordered to pay partial costs to an applicant looking to build a home in Coates.

Planning inspector Gareth Wildgoose made the order after visiting the site of the proposed two storey three-bedroom house on land adjacent to 217 Coates Road. The application would have seen an existing outbuilding demolished.

Applicant Oliver Brookes submitted an application for costs and also lodged an appeal because the council had failed to make a decision on his plans within the set time period.

The council said its failure to decide was because it needed further information on planning policies regarding housing growth in Coates.

The village is identified as a Limited Growth Village which includes a 10 per cent threshold for an increase in the number of homes in the village since April 2011.

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The council inaccurately said the threshold had been breached - which was not the case. This was corrected in time for an appeal for a decision on his application but Mr Brookes had incurred costs in preparing his case on the council’s wrong assertion.

The council gave two other reasons for refusing the application and Mr Wildgoose agreed with these rejecting Mr Brookes appeal to gain permission for the house.

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In his written decision on the costs application he said: “I agree with the council that the development would cause harm in terms of its impact on the character and appearance of the site and the surrounding area. It follows that I am satisfied that the council has shown that it was able to substantiate a refusal of the proposal on that basis.

“Consequently, I do not consider that the council has acted unreasonably with respect to preventing or delaying development or caused the appellant to incur unnecessary or wasted expense in the appeal process as a result.”

But he found the council’s ‘unreasonable behaviour’ had resulted in unnecessary and wasted expense only in the preparation of a case relating to the growth threshold.

He said: “Consequently, only a partial award of costs is justified.”

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