A PLANNING inspector has awarded £5,000 costs against the borough council after deciding it had acted “unreasonably”.
Inspector Alan Robinson awarded the cash to Mr and Mrs A Burslem after mostly granting their applications regarding Burton Nurseries.
The couple had initially been refused permission by the borough council for three areas of hardstanding, links between glass houses and an extension to another building, together with a proposed walkway, at the Chester High Road business.
The Burslems appealed to Communities and Local Government secretary Hazel Blears, who appointed Mr Robinson to decide their plans on appeal.
He decided the links and extension, which had already been erected, are largely out of sight, although they do involve a small loss of openness.
However, the walkway would be “easily seen” from a car park and the access to the garden centre from Mudhouse Lane, and involve a more significant loss of openness.
The borough council's concern related solely to the hardstandings, said Mr Robinson.
He said it was “unlikely” anyone passing or visiting the centre would notice them, and he concluded they would not affect the visual amenity of the Green Belt.
Mr Robinson said that, with the exception of the walkway, he believed Mr and Mrs Burslem’s case was “compelling”.
The inspector largely allowed the appeals and granted permission for the hardstandings and links, but not the walkway.
In a separate ruling, he said he believed the borough council had not supported its reasons for refusal.
Its arguments, he felt, had ignored the site’s previous planning permissions.
Mr Robinson decided the council had acted “unreasonably” and caused Mr and Mrs Burslem unnecessary expense.