WISBECH: Fenland Council to pay costs after man wins planning battle to convert derelict building
PUBLISHED: 15:09 21 July 2008 | UPDATED: 08:33 02 June 2010
EXCLUSIVE By JOHN ELWORTHY A BITTER dispute over converting an historic Wisbech building into flats has landed Council Tax payers with a hefty bill for costs after councillors were sharply criticised for ignoring officers advice. Planning inspector Wend
By JOHN ELWORTHY
A BITTER dispute over converting an historic Wisbech building into flats has landed Council Tax payers with a hefty bill for costs after councillors were sharply criticised for ignoring officers' advice.
Planning inspector Wenda Fabian said Fenland District Council had "little basis for the reasons for refusal" and the applicants had therefore incurred the full costs of preparing for two appeals.
"I find that unreasonable behaviour resulting in unnecessary expenses has been demonstrated and that a full award of costs is justified," she said.
Ms Fabian has allowed Felix Apicella to go ahead with converting 7 Nene Quay into flats which she says would neither harm the character or appearance of the building or affect the adjacent Rose and Crown Hotel.
She said the council had provided "only very limited evidence" in respect of the reasons for refusal and rounded on the council for not agreeing to the plans which Mr Apicella and his agent had spent a great deal of time and effort in discussing with officers.
Ms Fabian said:
n No objection was raised to the appearance of the building or its visual effect on surrounding listed buildings
n The definition of the harm that would arise from over development "was vague"
n No evidence was put forward about alleged traffic dangers
She said it was clear that the application "could reasonably have been permitted" and the need for the hearing could, therefore, reasonably have been avoided.
The appeal building was formerly the 18th century coach house and stables for the Rose and Crown but following a fire it was de-listed in 1998. Although it remains an important part of the setting of the hotel, it is now under different ownership.
Ms Fabian said part of 7 Nene Quay already had consent for housing and she rejected the claim it was needed for commercial purposes.