High council appeal costs lead to new call-in system for planning applications

Parkside Chart Way Horsham - Horsham District Council and West Sussex County Council SUS-150723-162029001
Parkside Chart Way Horsham - Horsham District Council and West Sussex County Council SUS-150723-162029001

High planning appeal costs have led to a new system where applications could be ‘called-in’ at Horsham District Council.

Since it has only just adopted its local plan, decisions by both planning committees have been overturned on appeal in the last few years, with the planning inspector awarding costs in some cases to developers.

At last Wednesday’s Full Council meeting Leonard Crosbie (LDem, Trafalgar), chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, explained that the amendment to the consitution was fairly unique as it had been proposed by members of his committee and not been driven by cabinet members or officers.

According to HDC it incurred adverse appeal costs of £349,869 in 2014/15 and £63,056 over the first six months of this financial year, while it was facing a claim for £330,176.17 from developers after refusing a scheme north of Old Guildford Road in Broadbridge Heath.

Under the proposals Full Council would determine planning applications referred to it if the director of planning, economic development, and property believed one of the planning committees was minded to make a decision that would have ‘significant cost implications’.

Claire Vickers (Con, Southwater), cabinet member for planning and development, said: “We have a duty across the district to spend our money wisely and not spend money on appeals we do not need to be fighting.”

Officers explained that having strict criteria that laid out when the system would kick-in, would mean that developers would know exactly what criteria had been applied.

Brian O’Connell (Con, Henfield), chairman of the Development Control South Committee, said that in the last few years they were looking at total appeal costs of around £750,000 and added: “If there’s going to be major expenditure it should be by Full Council.”

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