Council accused of 'abuse of process'

PUBLISHED: 10:28 13 February 2007 | UPDATED: 19:56 01 June 2010

A PLANNING inspector described as an abuse of process the late arrival of evidence supporting Fenland Council s opposition to a pair of semi detached homes in Wisbech. Colin Tyrell said the council s actions were most unusual but decided it would be

A PLANNING inspector described as "an abuse of process" the late arrival of evidence supporting Fenland Council's opposition to a pair of semi detached homes in Wisbech.

Colin Tyrell said the council's actions were "most unusual" but decided it would be contrary to natural justice to prevent them from making its case.

In the event, however, Mr Tyrell allowed the appeal against Fenland Council's refusal to allow the homes to be built north of 1 Sandringham Avenue.

M L Engineering, who owns the site, claimed that an allegation by a local councillor that the area had no semi detached homes was simply not true and that 28 of the 36 homes in Sandringham Avenue were semi detached.

Mr Tyrell said he gave "little weight" to this issue, relying instead on deciding whether the homes would be an overdevelopment of the site and compatible with the area.

He concluded the new homes would have "very little impact" on the surroundings, and were of a suitable design.

In a separate battle over costs, M L Engineering said there was a "serious failure" of the council not to produce evidence in time.

"The evidence presented today by the council's representative is unsubstantiated and unreasonable," the company told the hearing.

However the council argued that its' members had strong planning grounds for refusal, even though their views differed from those of the officers.

Mr Tyrell refused an application for costs, saying the decision by the committee involved "subjective matters" and an award for costs was not justified.

However he said the council was guilty of "unreasonable behaviour" and a "serious failure" in not supplying pre inquiry evidence, but said M L Engineering had not incurred additional costs for a hearing which had only lasted 70 minutes.

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