Rap for council over homes row

Land off the Coastal Road, Bolton-le-Sands, where new homes will be built.
Land off the Coastal Road, Bolton-le-Sands, where new homes will be built.

Councillors have had a ticking off over a planning decision which could cost the taxpayer tens of thousands.

Members of Lancaster City Council will be given extra training after the planning committee’s decision to refuse a housing development at Bolton-le-Sands was overturned and led to an appeal for costs.

A council report prior to Tuesday’s planning meeting said: “The council should avoid the reputational and financial damage that can occur from making decisions which cannot be properly defended.”

After residents campaigned against the plans by Kendal-based Oakmere Homes to build 77 homes at land off the Coastal Road, the planning committee refused the scheme in August 2013 on several grounds including inadequate water drainage. But Oakmere Homes appealed to the Government and after a public inquiry, planning permission was granted.

“There was no clear convincing policy or technical evidence to justify the refusal of planning permission,” said the report.

The appeal found that the council had acted “unreasonably” causing “unnecessary expense” for Oakmere Homes.

Coun Keith Budden, chair of the planning committee, said: “Appeals are part of the process. You win some, you lose some. The committee wanted more assurances about this scheme but the inspector didn’t agree.”

Building work is due to start this summer. The housing scheme will be called ‘The Orchards’. The first phase will consist of 37 three and four-bedroomed homes.

Oakmere Homes said the exact amount of costs being sought was “confidential”.