Council has to pay costs after losing Rushden planning appeal

A council’s planning committee has hit out at a planning inspector’s decision to over-rule its decision to refuse an 11-bed House in Multiple Occupation (HiMO) in Rushden.

East Northamptonshire Council will have to pay £750 costs after it lost an appeal against a decision its planning committee made in January to say no to turning a former factory at 42 Victoria Road into a home of multiple occupancy. The planning committee had concerns over the size of the rooms and the lack of parking nearby and one councillor had called it a ‘hovel’.

The planning committee were not impressed with the planning inspectors decision.

The planning committee were not impressed with the planning inspectors decision.

But after an appeal was lodged by applicant Mr Watts, the inspector visited the site and ruled the proposed living standards were adequate, there was sufficient on-street parking and the development met the council’s own guidance policies.

At Wednesday’s (Aug 21) planning meeting the councillors expressed their disappointment at the ruling.

Cllr Andy Mercer said: “I do not understand how the inspector came to the conclusion that there is adequate parking in Victoria Road when the road is usually so jammed that you have to reverse along it.

“So when we have a situation where parking is an issue in an urban area and we say there is inadequate parking can we specify the time of day that the inspector visits because it may well be that he visited at a time when everybody has driven off to work, not in the evening when the road is being blocked?”

The council’s head of planning, Paul Bland, told the councillor that it was not possible to request a time but it could be suggested.

Cllr Mercer suggested when the authority refused an application on parking grounds in the future the committee should put in the time of say when parking is an issue.

Ward member Barbara Jenny, who put in a detailed letter to the inspector, said: “This is a staggering result on this particular application. How they have come quite to the decision they have is amazing.

The fact they find the accommodation and the amenity space acceptable is beyond belief.”

Cllr Gill Mercer asked if the council had any recourse against the decision.

She said: “We have had issues with inspectors decisions in the past and normally we accept it, but when it is vastly out of step with reality on the ground, to be charged costs on that just seems completely ridiculous and I just wondered whether we could appeal against costs at least.”

Mr Bland said there was a very tight timescale for getting back to the inspector and well beyond that and the only recourse would be to go through the courts he would not recommend doing so.

Cllr Mercer requested that appeals went forward to the committee quicker to give time to appeal against inspectors decisions if felt necessary.