Unreasonable behaviour proven in religious use dispute

In upholding an enforcement notice issued by a local authority in greater Manchester an inspector has made a partial award of costs in favour of the council due to the appellant's lack of evidence in support of two of his grounds of appeal.

The site was being used as a religious educational and cultural centre having formerly comprised two dwellings which had been amalgamated and extended. In opposing the notice the appellant alleged that it was immune from enforcement action and in addition the steps required to remedy the harm to amenity were excessive. In this context he suggested that limits on the hours of use and number of people attending the premises could be imposed.

Two previous appeals had failed, the inspector noted, and in failing to pay the requisite fee the planning merits of the case did not fall to be determined. There was a failure to present any cogent evidence on why the development was immune from enforcement action and the merits of the case could not be considered in the context of the steps which the notice stipulated should be followed to secure compliance. Although the appellant had been professionally advised by a number of agents the appeal claiming immunity from action had no reasonable prospect of success and similarly to introduce planning merits without having paid a valid fee was unreasonable. Consequently, the council was entitled to its costs in dealing with these aspects of the appeal.

Inspector: John Whalley; Written representations

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