Appellant wins full costs over repeat refusal

In allowing a bungalow in a Herefordshire town, an inspector has awarded costs against the council for refusing the application on grounds that a previous inspector found unjustified.

The council had refused an identical proposal in 2009 on the grounds that vehicle and pedestrian movements would harm neighbours' living conditions and the development would not provide acceptable levels of residential amenity. In 2010, an inspector dismissed an appeal on the first ground but found that the bungalow would provide reasonable living conditions.

The council rejected a resubmitted application, partly on the grounds that the bungalow would have limited outdoor amenity space. The second inspector took the view that this amounted to persisting with an objection that his predecessor had found unjustified, breaching advice in paragraph B29 of Circular 03/2009.

Since the original dismissal, the appellant had commissioned a noise assessment that concluded that the scheme's impact would be very low. This finding persuaded officers to recommend permission, but councillors maintained their opposition.

The council's response to the appellant's application for costs argued that the planning committee had been informed by ward members' knowledge of noise nuisance. The inspector did not see noise assessment as an issue on which local knowledge could justify a decision against officer advice.

In his view, the council had imposed a spurious additional reason for refusal, alleging restricted visibility at the site access. All three grounds for refusal were unreasonable and justified a full award of costs, he decided.

Inspector: Michael Muston; Written representations

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