Smart Planning recently obtained an excellent result on behalf of a client who had planning permission and a full award of costs granted at appeal. We appealed against a refusal of planning permission for the conversion of a three bedroom property into two self-contained flats. The sole reason for refusal related to a local policy adopted in 2011 which resisted such proposals due to the stated surplus of small units and shortage of family housing, quoting various evidence base documents in the justification. We interrogated these evidence base documents, finding that they concentrated on affordable housing and demonstrated a shortage of family units for affordable housing only. At the time of submitting the appeal all up-to-date evidence demonstrated that household sizes in London are getting smaller and the demand for smaller units is increasing accordingly.
We submitted all of this evidence, disputing the Council’s adopted policy and the evidence base used to support it. The Council chose not to submit a formal Statement of Case within the appeal, relying on their Officer’s Report. As such they did not provide any evidence to substantiate their sole reason for refusal or dispute any of our evidence. We applied for a full award of costs against the Council on this basis for unreasonable behaviour.
In issuing their decision the Inspector found that on the basis of our evidence the proposal would contribute towards meeting the current housing need, with no evidence submitted to the contrary. The Inspector also found that the Council had behaved unreasonably in failing to substantiate their reason for refusal, granting a full award of costs to the Appellant. An excellent result which shows the importance of the evidence base behind adopted policies and that just because a policy is adopted, it does not mean it cannot be challenged.