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West Norfolk Council hit by costs ruling over Downham housing decision

Developers have lost their bid to overturn a decision to block a proposed housing development in Downham, despite a report concluding West Norfolk Council had acted unreasonably in the case.

An appeal against the borough council’s decision to refuse planning permission for 19 properties on land to the south of Prince Henry Place (PHP) has been dismissed.

But a government inspector has allowed part of an application for costs on behalf of the applicant, Bob Fidock.

Planning Applications (19654395)
Planning Applications (19654395)

Mr Fidock challenged the council’s decision, which was made in September last year, to reject the scheme.

Newly-published reports from the Planning Inspectorate said concerns about noise and disturbance to residents of the nearby sheltered housing complex were the main issues in the case.

The inspector concluded that the potential harm that would be caused to the area by the development outweighed the benefits of the proposed new homes.

But in a separate report, which related to Mr Fidock’s application against the council for legal costs, the inspector concluded the authority had acted unreasonably by citing the loss of green space as a justification for refusal.

The document said: “Although as a green space the appeal site contributes positively to the quality of life of the local residents, the residents of PHP would still be able to access and benefit from their local communal garden.

“Furthermore, the proposal would not lead to a significant erosion of green space in the surrounding area, due to the presence of the large grounds of the Downham Market Academy to the west of the PHP scheme and the appeal site.

“As such, I consider that, in this respect, the applicant incurred extra costs in the appeal process.”

The council has been ordered to pay Mr Fidock’s costs in relation to that aspect of the appeal.

A borough council spokesman said the appellant would need to submit a costs schedule showing all expenses incurred as a result of the appeal relating to the green space issue to be assessed before the total cost of the ruling is known.

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