Costs decision quashed due to lack of reasoning

The high court has agreed to strike down an inspector's decision not to award a company its costs after she allowed an appeal involving the construction of three dwellings.

A planning application involving the demolition of a dwelling to enable the construction of three new houses which had been recommended for approval by a planning officer had nonetheless been refused consent by the local authority. On appeal the inspector determined that the council’s objections could not be sustained and permission was granted. But she refused to make any award of costs in favour of the company who argued that inadequate reasons had been provided.

Mr Justice Foskett held that there was no requirement for the inspector to set out in full the competing arguments since they were fully known to the main parties. But the inspector had at least to provide evidence that she understood what they were. However, her decision did not provide sufficient information explaining why she felt that the material was considered to have afforded a respectable basis for the authority’s decision and had met the objective standard to support the reasons for refusal. Consequently, the judge remitted the matter back to the inspector for re-consideration.

Lochailort Investments Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government;

Ref: CO/1198/2014;

Date: 16 October 2014

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