PLANNING appeals are set to cost a local authority more than one million pounds
A report put before councillors indicated that Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) has paid out £1,156,014 in nine cases representing planning concerns of local communities.
One of the applications was a plan to build 142 homes on playing fields off Clifton Drive, Chester, which was rejected by councillors in January this year.
The application, which was subject of a formal inquiry, was submitted by Jersey-based Bark Street Investments and racked up fees of £34,006.
Of the total amount, £9,006 was spent on barristers, witness costs, venue hire and in-house legal fees.
A further £25,000 is expected to be awarded against the council in costs which have yet to be assessed.
The report to councillors states that ‘in defending any appeal which may be made against its decisions on planning applications, the council will incur expenditure’.
Cllr Brian Clarke sits on the CWaC strategic planning committee and called for the report to be made available to councillors.
Cllr Clarke said: “These are the costs we’ve incurred fighting cases we thought were reasonable.
“This isn’t a justifiable amount to be handing out.
“We have to look at things realistically.
“We’re not happy to live with this figure, I think it’s too high but that’s what barristers and counsels seem to cost.
“This is a wake up call for the whole authority.”
Another five figure sum will be shelled out by CWaC to settle the matter of an application to build 85 student apartments on a the site of a former school building in George Street.
The application was refused over concerns about residential amenity impacts in terms of noise and general disturbance, however on appeal via written representation, permission was granted.
Officers’ time dealing with the case amassed a fee of £602.64 with £11,974 being allocated in costs, generating a total of £12,576.
Cllr Alex Tate said the fee was “not acceptable”.
She said: “This is an appalling figure, I’m very keen for members to receive better training.
“We’re lay-people doing our best and we take our advice from professionals but sometimes decisions are made on a purely emotional basis as we do feel strongly about the issues that affect residents. This is not an acceptable fee whatsoever.”
Among the other applications, a staggering £115,442 has been allocated to resolve the matter of an application for 140 dwellings on Chester Road, Malpas, for which permission was granted.
Costs have been calculated at £88,266 with £27,175 in associated fees.
In Ellesmere Port, £235,518 will be paid by CWac in resolving issues surrounding a proposal for a mixed used employment and residential development.
Costs were set at £205,000 with £30,518 in associated costs.
See full story in the Chester Leader