Lewes District Council has been ordered to pay a developer’s appeal costs, after a planning inspector overturned the refusal of a controversial housing scheme in Ringmer.
In a decision issued this week, a planning inspector greenlit plans to build 68 homes on land opposite Bishop’s Close — a scheme from developer Thakeham Homes, which was refused planning permission in August last year.
The inspector said the scheme should have been approved, as it met the requirements of the presumption in favour of sustainable development set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.
In their decision notice, the inspector said: “Overall, I conclude that the benefits of the appeal scheme would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the harm identified when assessed against the policies of the Development Plan, when taken as a whole.
“As such the proposed development benefits from the Framework’s presumption in favour of sustainable development. Accordingly, I allow this appeal and grant planning permission.
“I recognise that this outcome will be disappointing to those opposing the development. However, the views of local people, very important though they are, must be balanced against other considerations, including national and local planning policy.”
The scheme had initially been refused on a variety of grounds, including overdevelopment and ‘poor design’. The inspector judged both of these elements to be acceptable.
Committee members had also raised concerns about the impact of additional traffic on Earwig Corner (a busy junction on the A26 in Lewes), but this was dropped as a reason for refusal during the appeal process.
In a separate decision, the inspector also ordered the council to pay the appeal costs incurred by Thakeham Homes.
The inspector said the council had displayed several instances of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ during the appeal process, but said it had unclear how these had led to Thakeham Homes incurring
Ultimately, costs were awarded solely because of a delay at the final stage of the inquiry caused by the council revising its closing statement.
The inspector said: “This matter alone amounts to unreasonable behaviour leading to unnecessary expense.
“Whilst the redrafting and presentation of the revised statement was designed to avoid a claim, the adjournment now forms part of the claim before me.
“This is an inevitable result of the council’s redrafting of its closing statement which was caused by unreasonable behaviour.”