'Unreasonable behaviour' means Steve must pay council's costs of failed appeal


The Whittlesey site which was refused permission for a bungalow. The applicant appealed but has lost - and has been ordered to pay the costs of Fenland Council. - Credit: Planning Portal

A government inspector ordered a Whittlesey man to pay a council’s costs after he unsuccessfully challenged their refusal to allow him to build a bungalow.  

Steve Fradley was told he should have taken note of earlier refusals by Fenland District Council.  

The inspector, E.Brownless, accused Mr Fradley of “unreasonable behaviour” and said that Fenland Council had been put to unnecessary expense.  

Not only must Mr Fradley pay his own appeal costs but those of the council.  

The council took the unusual step of applying for its costs from the appeal process to be reimbursed as it justified why the chalet-style home at 1 Otago Road was refused. 

Mr Brownless said that anyone appealing a planning decision is advised to consider whether there are strong grounds to contest the decision.   

Despite this, Mr Fradley still continued with the appeal and it was concluded Fenland District Council “has been put to the expense of defending their position when the appeal effectively had no chance of succeeding”.   

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The inspector dismissed the appeal because of the effect the bungalow it would have on the character and appearance of the area.   

The site at Otago Road is a parcel of land next to two new bungalows at 27 and 27A Drybread Road.   

Although changes were made to the design of Mr Fradley’s application, the inspector ruled that it would introduce “a tandem form of development to the front of No 27A Drybread Road”. 

That, he said, “would appear at odds with the prevailing pattern of linear development”. 

The original application was submitted to Fenland District Council in November 2019 and refused in May 2020.   

Mr Brownless said that The Planning Practice Guidance (the PPG) advises that parties in planning appeals are normally expected to meet their own expenses.  

“Irrespective of the outcome of the appeal, costs may only be awarded against a party who has behaved unreasonably and thereby causes the party applying for costs to incur unnecessary or wasted expense in the appeal process.  

“The applicant considers that the respondent acted unreasonably in the submission of the appeal, on substantive grounds that the appeal follows previous appeal decisions.” 

He said this included a recent decision in respect of a very similar development where an Inspector decided that the proposal was unacceptable and the circumstances have not materially changed in the intervening period.  

“The evidence before me indicates that the respondent was made fully aware of the concerns of the applicant and the previous appeal Inspectors.  

“The significant concerns regarding the creation of tandem development and the subsequent erosion of the spacious and open character of the area and loss of a large plot were highlighted to the respondent with reference to local and national planning policy.  

“Whilst I note that the applicant was co-operative with the respondent in terms of achieving a revised scheme of an amended design and parking layout, the applicant was clear that an application in this location would not be supported.” 

Mr Brownless added: “The development is clearly not in accordance with the development plan, and whilst some other material considerations are advanced, these are limited and do not indicate that a decision should have been made otherwise than in accordance with the development plan.”