Planners branded nimbys hit with £79k costs bill

Extract from Cambridge News:- Defeat at a planning appeal has left taxpayers facing £79,000 bill. The “unprecedented” costs award was made after Cambridge City Council unsuccessfully opposed an application ofr 124 homes on the former BT Openreach depot in Cromwell Road, Romsey. The proposals were refused by the planning committee in February, amid concerns the development was “over-dense and cramped”, and provided too many small units – but that was overturned by an inspector last month, as the News reported. The Council said it was considering whether to challenge the costs award for Weston Homes of £78,978. Cllr Sheila Stuart, who chairs the planning committee, said she was “very mindful” of the impact on the council’s finances of the award, which she described as “unprecedented”. She said: “We do the best we can but it is down to the individual members on the day and we are heavily influenced by public speakers and site visits. “In this case the inspector has clearly shown us that we got it wrong and we have had advice that there is a growing trend of applicants going for costs in appealss. “We can’t approach every decision with the fear it may end up at appeal” Following the committee’s decision, Weston Homes had lashed out at the “nimbyism” of the council and neighbours who objected to the plans, claiming councillors were swayed by a “vocal and vociferous minority”. Before the appeal got under way, the council dropped one reason for refusal, about the size of the units, so only had half its defence left. Bob Weston, chairman of Weston Homes, said: “The award does not go anywhere near covering the full legal or investment costs incurred, nor does it take into account the year-long delay in the delivery of much needed new housing for the city. “All along we’ve believed our scheme is a positive one for the wider community and that view has been backed by the council’s own planning officers, with whom we’ve worked so hard for so long to create a design we’re proud of, and its a view subsequently supported by the planning inspector.”

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