Edge of settlement development secured without costs award

A development of 69 dwellings on the edge of a Northamptonshire settlement has been permitted, an inspector rejecting a claim for a full award of costs on behalf of the appellant.

The scheme had been refused contrary to the advice of planning officers. The appellant claimed that the council had failed to adopt the correct approach in not considering all relevant development plan policies, as set out in Cummins and the London Borough of Camden v Secretary of State for the Environment Transport and the Regions and Barratt Homes Ltd [2001]. In particular, its concern that construction vehicles accessing the site via an existing estate had not been founded on any empirical evidence and its further objections to the siting of equipped play areas did not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the scheme.

Elected members did not need to follow the advice of their officers, the inspector held, since some decisions necessarily involved matters of judgement. The transport statement submitted with the planning application did not refer specifically to the impact of construction traffic and was therefore a matter upon which the elected members could exercise their judgement, which could only be examined at appeal. Despite not providing any rebuttal evidence to support its case which did amount to unreasonable behaviour the appellant had not been put to any unnecessary expense, she held.

With regard to a further objection to the site’s location and poor footpath links to other services, evidence was produced in the form of photographs and networks to support this concern. The council's statement of case undertook a proper balancing exercise and in the inspector's opinion elected members did undertake a responsible approach to development management. The fact that the benefits of the scheme outweighed the harm and therefore justified allowing the appeal did not mean that the council had acted unreasonably.

Inspector: Susan Ashworth; Hearing


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