Cost of legal advice deters council from objecting to planning appeal

Warwick District Council says it won’t object to an appeal by developer AC LLoyd against a decision to turn down plans for 200 homes near Leamington Spa because of the legal costs involved.

The council’s planning committee turned down AC Lloyds planning application for the scheme, on land south of Chesterton Gardens, on February 12.

Now, the council says that its legal team has said the committee’s decision may have been “irrational or unlawful”.

Warwick council leader Andrew Day said: “The Council has received legal advice that the Planning Committee’s decision to refuse this application was not supported by sound technical or planning reasons, is contrary to the expert evidence considered at the meeting and therefore may be irrational or unlawful.

“The appeal will proceed, and the merits of the committee’s decision will be determined by the inspector, but this Council will not commit significant sums of public money contesting this appeal with the additional risk of being ordered to meet all of the substantial costs incurred by the appellant should they be successful.

“Members of the Planning Committee will of course be supported in providing witness statements to the hearing, if they choose to do so. Others may also choose to become ‘rule 6 parties’ to contest the appeal.

“In advance of this appeal AC Lloyd made a second application, which was also refused by the Planning Committee on 19 May. If this appeal on the first application is successful, permission would be granted for the new development, but without any obligation for AC Lloyd to invest in the mitigation measures offered by the second application.

“I believe that the Planning Committee have acted with integrity in considering this important and complex application. The decision not to object to this appeal is a careful and considered judgement on where best to apply scarce public funding, given the strong legal advice about the very limited chances of defending the grounds on which the Committee’s decision was taken.

“I’m grateful for the support of the leaders of all political groups and my Cabinet colleagues in making this difficult decision. Together, we resolved to focus our resources on addressing residents’ concerns about the provision of a second access to this allocated housing site, rather than on the considerable legal expense of defending this appeal, whose outcome is unlikely to be favourable to the Council.”