Controversial planning inquriy costs council over £60,000

The proposed housing development site on School Road, Heacham. Picture: Ian Burt

The proposed housing development site on School Road, Heacham. Picture: Ian Burt

The planning inquiry held into a controversial development in Heacham cost West Norfolk Council more than £60,000, it has been revealed.

Broadland Housing Association and Townsfolk Ltd lost its appeal against the council's decision to refuse outline planning permission for 70 new homes with a care home and housing with care facilities.

A government planning inspector insisted a public inquiry – the most expensive form of appeal which also required legal representation – was required to resolve the matter, leaving the council with a total bill of £61,170.

The outcome also meant the council was able to adequately support the claim it now has a five year land supply – a government requirement.

Richard Blunt, the council's cabinet member for development, said: 'Our hand was forced here and we were not able to choose the type of hearing that we would have, and were advised it would be an expensive public inquiry.

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'We felt very strongly that we had to defend our original decision to refuse the application, and also tackle the issue of five year land supply as this had been cited as a reason the application should have been approved.'

He added: 'We have done a lot of work on our five year land supply and felt confident about our position.

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'We had to put together the best defence we could knowing that the outcome of the Public Inquiry would have far reaching effects across the borough.'

David Spencer, the government planning inspector leading the inquiry, released his decision to dismiss the appeal earlier this month.

Mr Blunt said: 'We are delighted the Planning Inspector agreed with our decision and concluded that we do have a five year supply of land for housing.

'It means that all our local planning policies for the delivery of housing are considered up to date and will be used as the basis to judge applications again, not just national planning guidance.'

Broadland Housing declined to comment.

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