Avoiding Costs at Appeal

There is only one thing worse than losing a planning appeal, and that is having costs awarded against you. The outcome of an appeal doesn’t automatically result in a costs award, it requires a party to have behaved unreasonably and for the other party to have incurred wasted expense.

In one recent case in Devon, a costs award was made against the Appellant to pay the Council’s costs, which is quite a rare occurrence. After reading on, it transpired that the Appellant had failed to supply the Council with information requested part way through considering a planning application. This can be frustrating yes, but in this instance, it appeared a straightforward request that should have been picked up in validation. Fast forward, and the application was refused, an appeal dismissed, and the Appellant was on the wrong side of a costs award.

“I therefore find that unreasonable behaviour resulting in unnecessary and wasted expense in the appeal process has been demonstrated and that a full award of costs is justified.”

It is important to have the right professional planning advice, during an application and at appeal. If you have a costs application made against you, it is vital to put forward a robust defence to prevent appeal becoming even more costly.

Inspire Planning Solutions have a 100% perfect record of success on costs application. We have won costs against both a London Borough and a West Midlands Council in just the last few weeks alone, as they were both found to have behaved unreasonably.

If you have had a bad planning experience with a Council, please contact us for advice and guidance on your possible next steps.

Why YOU should appeal!

Refusal, in whatever form is disappointing.

As far as your planning application is concerned, it need not be the end of your project as there is a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. According to the Planning Inspectorate’s records, on average, one appeal in three is successful and this rate has remained broadly constant over many years.

If you disagree with your local Council’s decision, you can appeal within 6 months from the decision notice date.

At Inspire Planning Solutions Ltd, we can review your application and provide advice on the chances of success at appeal, or if an amended form of development would stand a better possibility of obtaining consent.

We have vast experience in all types of appeals including householder, written representation appeals, hearings and public inquiries, and we’ll advise on the most appropriate appeal method to avoid wasting time and money.

If you would like some impartial advice, please call us today on 0161 428 0445 or complete our contact form by clicking on this link 

Another Enforcement Notice Overturned on Appeal

Farooq and the team have achieved a rare feat in the world of planning – we have helped secure the withdrawal of a Council’s  Enforcement Notice.

This case has proved to be a very painful lesson for the local authority. Rather than listening to objections by vociferous neighbours, it is important that Councils make fair and subjective decisions on planning applications.

Had the Council recognised their mistake and investigated the application in a sensible manner, they would have saved not just themselves, but the property owner and the Planning Inspectorate, a lot of time and money. It could now become even more painful, as future proposals indicate the Council may have to reimburse the Planning Inspectorate’s costs as well.

We’re hoping that this example might just install more discipline to all those involved in the planning process.

If you find yourself in a similar situation and would like some advice on how to submit a planning appeal, then please contact us today.

No planning permission? Be prepared to face the new consequences

There is nothing that gets people’s backs up more than somebody who has built without planning permission. It’s also probably one of the most frequently expressed frustrations at Planning Committee meetings. I’m not talking about the case of Mr Fidler, who built an entire castle in the Surrey Green Belt without planning permission! Council’s taking action against those that have infringed planning law will usually provide the developer with an invitation to submit a retrospective planning application.

Such retrospective applications have however, until recently, always been assessed on the planning merits of the scheme, in the same way as other planning applications. However in the Autumn of 2015, in his first letter to Chief Planning Officers following the May General Election, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Chief Planner Steve Quartermain set out revisions to national planning policy that would make intentional unauthorised development a material consideration. The note, which states the policy came into effect from 1st September, made explicit reference to the “expensive and time-consuming enforcement action” that unlawful development often prompts.

We have been analysing the reaction of many commentators who have questioned the effectiveness of these changes. Rather than reducing the workload of enforcement teams, many feel they will actually see an increase. If the Chief Planner’s correspondence makes Council’s and Inspector’s more confident about refusing retrospective applications for unauthorised development, there will surely be more refusals to enforce! Yet, with enforcement teams already struggling to manage their existing workload, and with a continued reduction in staffing numbers, their ability to handle more cases is doubtful.

So, bound to fail if not properly resourced?

It is too early to say how this will work in practice; presumably it will only be a justification for refusing a scheme where there has actually been harm arising as a result of the development, which cannot be mitigated, rather than having an impact on all retrospective applications?In which case, we see little change from the status quo!

..and then there is the question of intention? It could prove problematic in proving someone intentionally and not inadvertently carried out development unless, say, they continued to operate a use after being warned by the Local Planning Authority that they required permission.

The impact of this new policy is yet to be seen. What is clear however is the steps taken by the Government in recent years will certainly make the risk of carrying out development without planning permission less attractive!To this extent, it may, as Minister’s believehave a preventative effect. We may start seeing applications that are otherwise acceptable and in compliance with the development plan being refused, simply because they were commenced without in breach without first obtaining the necessary consent?

The mere threat of enforcement action can lead to a great deal of stress and worry.  At times like this it’s best to seek the right professional advice. As Chartered Town Planners, we can alleviate the worry by carefully guiding you through your options and have a track record in liaising with local authorities in such circumstances.