Taxpayers in Warwick district to cover 'six figure' bill after council is told to pay costs of developer's successful planning appeal to build hundreds of homes in south of Leamington

The district council will pay more than £100,000 to AC Lloyd after an inspector found the authority to have displayed 'unreasonable behaviour' in rejecting two applications for the site in Whitnash.

Warwick District Council' s actions in rejecting a developer's controversial planning application to build hundreds of homes on land in the south of Leamington are set to cost the authority and, subsequently, taxpayers more than £100,000.

The council's planning committee had twice gone against officers' recommendations in rejecting AC Lloyd' s applications to build an initial 200 homes on land south of Chesterton Gardens in Whitnash.

But at the conclusion of a successful appeal by the developer to have permission granted last week, planning inspector Harold Stephens said the applications should never have been stopped and that the council displayed 'unreasonable behaviour' in blocking the development.

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The inspector also decided that the district council should pay AC Lloyd's costs for the appeal proceedings which will be more than £100,000.

As a result, the district council has said: "Following the decision of the planning inspector, we will review the circumstances of the development application and take appropriate steps going forward to improve as an authority.

"In the meantime we will continue to focus our resources and energies on addressing residents' concerns about the provision of a safe, second access to the site."

Residents, councillors and Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western were among those who have opposed the plans for some time.

Matt Western MP at the Chesterton Gardens site

Before the four-day appeal hearing, council leader Cllr Andrew Day had said the authority had been legally advised against contesting the appeal and that doing so would be a waste of taxpayers' money

And today (Wednesday August 18) Mr Western has further expressed his anger - this time towards the cost of the council's actions in regard to application.

He said: “Warwick District Council chose not to provide evidence against proposals for the 200-home ‘East Whitnash’ development during the appeal to the government’s planning inspector – despite it being rejected twice by its own planning committee.

“In doing so the leadership disregarded its duty to residents.

“The public were against this proposal from the outset but the Conservative-led council forced it through in its Local Plan.

“It was rumoured the council was seeking to avoid the associated costs of contesting the appeal – costs that could take a significant chunk out of council coffers.

“This was clearly never going to be the case.

“The Planning Inspectorate has ruled that WDC is liable for costs after all.

“So not only has the council failed to prevent an unpopular development opposed by many hundreds of Sydenham residents, but it will also make them pay for it.

“It is an absolute insult - and rubs salt in the wounds.

“I will be asking some very serious questions about who will benefit from this development, and what discussions took place behind closed doors.”

Leamington Willes Green Party Councillor Will Roberts is appealing to AC Lloyd to waive the costs.

He tweeted "@ACLloydHomes now you've won the appeal to build 200 homes making you £10s million in profit. Will you do the right thing and waive the costs awarded to you of over £100,000 of taxpayers money? #DoTheRightThing".