VAGUE and inaccurate statements have led to costs being awarded against Cheshire West and Chester Council.
They arose at a planning appeal involving an application by Ian Carter for a change of use to allow motor sales in the borough’s Green Belt at The Grange, Coalpit Lane, Mollington.
Permission was refused on Green Belt grounds and on the basis the change would be unacceptably harmful to the character and visual amenity of the surrounding landscape.
Mr Carter appealed and claimed costs.
Inspector Kay Sheffield says the business was already taking place using buildings and hardstanding on the former market garden land and an access to Coalpit Lane.
Most sales took place on the internet and very few customers visited.
She believed the reuse of the buildings would not harm the Green Belt, and from public viewpoints the vehicles could not seen.
She allowed the appeal and granted permission subject to conditions.
In relation to Mr Carter’s claim for costs, the inspector found the council had set out its view that permission should be refused on Green Belt grounds in detail in its planning officer’s report and documents submitted to the appeal.
She was satisfied it had substantiated that reason.
But its arguments there would be unacceptable harm to the surrounding landscape were based on “vague and inaccurate assertions” which were not adequately backed up.
This failure was unreasonable and as a result of the council’s actions, Mr Carter had incurred unnecessary expense and partial costs were justified.
She ordered the council to meet Mr Carter’s costs arising on that point.