Barn appeal won but council exonerated over initial refusal

Barn at Lode

View stood north west looking south, demonstrating the large barn to the left and the small barn to the right of the image of the barns now to be turned into homes. - Credit: Planning Inspectorate

A couple refused planning permission to convert two barns into five homes have won their appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.  

But Luke Simpson, the inspector who determined the appeal, refused an application for costs against East Cambridgeshire District Council.  

Mr and Mrs Richard Peters asked him for a full award of costs against the council but he turned them down.  

He said costs could only be awarded where a party has behaved unreasonably, and that unreasonable behaviour has directly caused another party to incur unnecessary or wasted expense in the appeal process. 

Quoting case law, he said that “whilst it is the case that the council came to a different conclusion in refusing the application, it did not act unreasonably in doing so”. 

Mr Simpson said there was a “unique set of circumstances in play” with regards to permissions relating to the barns.  

"I therefore find that unreasonable behaviour resulting in unnecessary or wasted expense, as described in the Planning Practice Guidance, has not been demonstrated,” he said. 

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For Mr and Mrs Peters, however, the principal outcome is they can go ahead with their building plans at Anglesey Farm, Lode Fen, Lode. 

The inspector said the main issue was of whether the works could be classified as “permitted development”. 

And he agreed it was.  

He summarised issues over when work had begun and if council requirements had been met.  

He agreed they had but imposed standard conditions to ensure work is carried out within a specified time. 

" I have imposed a condition requiring any unidentified contamination to be reported and remediated, in the interest of public health and protection of the environment,” the inspector added. 

Conditions also include flood risk assessment but he thought the council’s request “to ensure retention of the external materials” would be met within the terms of the application. 

Mr Peters had told the council the application site consists of two agricultural buildings, known as the ‘small barn’ and the ‘large barn’.  

The small barn is located adjacent to the front boundary of the site and the large barn is set slightly further into Anglesey Farm. 

The planning inspector noted that much of that evidence over the barns was not before the council at the time that they determined the application.  

“The council’s decision was therefore based on its own observations and its understanding based on the previous planning history,” he said.