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£12m paid out by councils after losing planning appeals - research

Costs / Shutterstock_195196565

New research suggests that local authorities paid out almost £12 million in lost planning appeals between 2010 and 2016.

Property consultancy Daniel Watney LLP sent out Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to the 418 principal local authorities – unitary, upper and second tier – across the UK, asking them to list costs awarded from appeal proceedings between 2010/11 and 2015/16.

The top 10 authorities paying the highest total sum:

1. Cornwall Council - £981,332.40

2. Derby City Council - £866,975.00

3. Halton Borough Council - £721,470.48

4. Stratford-on-Avon District Council - £557,818.84

5. South Gloucestershire Council - £505,544.28

6. Basingstoke and Dean Borough council - £468,694.60

7. Horsham District Council - £442,969.00

8. Cambridge City Council - £311,175.08

9. Solihull - £306,563.00

10. Cheshire - £260,197.61

Two-hundred and seventeen councils responded, with 178 stating that they had paid out over the past six years. This, according to the research, totalled £11,965,077.17.

Cornwall Council topped the list with £981,322.40, with Derby City Council coming in second, having paid out £866,975.00. Halton Borough Council paid on average the highest sum over the past six years, which worked out at £360,735.24 per lost appeal. Poole Borough Council had the highest number of cost decisions made against it.

The planning consultancy said pay-outs are “typically taken from the local planning authority budget”, and with many council planning departments suffering from cuts, there are “concerns money is being lost needlessly”.

“When you go through a planning appeal, you make an application of costs to the inspector at the time of the appeal but many won’t necessarily do that. For that to be successful you have to be able to show that the local authority has acted unreasonably, which there isn’t a specific test for. It is quite an onerous task to demonstrate that a local authority has been unreasonable during the process.

“In addition planning appeal inspectors, understandably in a period of cuts to local council budgets, appear to only be willing to allow costs against councils in the most extreme cases.”

Image credit | Shuttershock