Councillors warned of “significant financial implications” if they make the wrong decision on 128 homes for Witchford

How the proposed Witchford development could look

How the proposed Witchford development could look - Credit: Archant

If councillors continue to refuse to allow 128 homes at Witchford – and the company behind the scheme wins on appeal- it could have “significant financial implications”. East Cambridgeshire Council has been warned.

Sue Wheatley, planning manager, will tell the regulatory and support services committee today (Thu) that the applicant, Gladman Developments, “has advised that an award of costs will be sought.

“If an award of costs were to be made this could have significant implications for the council.”

Her report outlines outstanding appeals lodged against council decisions and says the Witchford appeal is of “particular significance”.

The planning committee rejected the scheme “for a number of technical grounds contrary to the advice of consultees” says Ms Wheatley.

“Before the committee made its decision the planning manager express concern and advised that to avoid an award of costs at appeal the reasons for refusal would need to be substantiated,” says her report.

A fresh application has been submitted, which will be decided in November or December, “in an attempt to avoid the appeal.”

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Similar issues face the council following refusal to build 100 homes at Haddenham; Gladman is behind this scheme too. .

“However in this case officers recommended refusal as they considered that the development would have a harmful impact upon the landscape and would be unsustainable,” says Ms Wheatley.

To help fight any appeal she says the council has taken legal advice and East Cambs can regard itself as having a five year supply of land- a likely part of any appeal.

Normally anyone lodging an appeal can expect to pay their own costs but Ms Wheatley will remind councillors that costs can be awarded if either party has been shown to have “acted unreasonably”. Lack of justification for a refusal would be the usual reason.