Costs awarded due to unreasonable assumptions and fallback position

An appeal involving a development of up to 50 dwellings in Leicestershire along with a scout hut, allotments and public open space was allowed, an inspector also concluding that the council had acted unreasonably in refusing permission.

The council had granted outline permission in 2011 and reserved matters were approved in 2012. The appellant stated, however, that due to the small size of the approved dwellings they were proving difficult to sell and applied for a revised scheme involving larger houses. This was submitted in October 2014 and was refused. A subsequent appeal was dismissed due to inadequate provision being made for mitigating the impacts and making provision for affordable housing. That decision was then quashed by the High Court and was remitted for re-determination. As a consequence, the council then granted permission for a similar scheme to that proposed in the re-determined appeal.

The inspector agreed that the financial contributions offered by the appellant met the relevant tests in the NPPF and were therefore necessary to make the scheme acceptable. However, he decided that while the council should have given careful consideration to the revised application having regard to the adoption of a neighbourhood plan in 2014 and a decision by the secretary of state to refuse permission for housing on an adjacent site, the council nonetheless failed to act reasonably in refusing permission. In particular, it had made unreasonable judgements about the fallback position and why the permitted scheme would not be built. Nor was evidence provided to justify its claim that it conflicted with the neighbourhood plan which had been prepared in the knowledge that the site benefited from an extant permission. This justified a full award of costs in respect of the first appeal.

Inspector: William Fieldhouse; Written representations

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