Taxpayers to foot the bill as Council 'behaved unreasonably' over car wash appeal

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Cheshire East Council has lost an appeal against their refusal to grant planning permission for the change in use of a former petrol filling station to a hand car wash and valet business.

Shines appealed to the Planning Inspectorate over the committee's refusal of their plans for two car wash bays - consisting of a spraying area and a valeting area - at the site of the former Kings Arms Service Station on Alderley Road in Wilmslow.

They company were also awarded full costs because the Council failed to submit a statement in support of its reasons for refusing planning permission within the given timescales.

Despite being recommended for approval by the Planning Officer, the Northern Planning Committee refused planning permission in July 2017 on the grounds that it would be detrimental to the character of the area and not enhance this important gateway site to Wilmslow. Additionally, the committee decided the proposed development would be contrary to the interests of highway safety because of the potential for cars waiting to access the site queuing back onto the public highway.

However, Shines appealed on the grounds that "There would be no harm to the character and appearance of the area, neighbouring amenity or highway safety. The proposal would comply with the development plan and in accordance with paragraph 14 of the NPPF, should be approved without delay. There are no material considerations to indicate otherwise."

The Planning Inspectorate allowed the appeal, stating the following reasons:

  • The use of the site as a car wash and valeting business would not be out of place given its planning history and the nature of the adjacent land uses.
  • Neither those operations nor the nature or volume of vehicle movements generated would be such as to have a significant adverse effect on the overall character of the area.
  • Its redevelopment and re-use would be of positive benefit in removing the adverse effect that the vacant site currently has on the appearance of this section of the road.
  • None of the proposed buildings or structures would be inappropriate in the context of the surrounding uses when seen from Alderley Road. From Knutsford Road and from residential properties on Donkey Lane they would largely be screened by the intervening buildings and stored materials on the Travis Perkins site. There would, accordingly, be no material effect on the character or appearance of these streets or of the wider area of Fulshaw Park.
  • Based on this evidence there would be limited risk of vehicles queuing on the public highway to access the site. I also accept the appellant's argument that car wash facilities are, to some extent, self-regulating in that, if customers see a long queue, they would be likely either to go to a different facility or come back at a quieter time.
  • I consider that the nature and level of vehicle movements into and out of the site would not cause significant risks to cyclists or to pedestrians using the footway. I note that the bus stop is used by school children and other users but, given its location roughly midway the proposed vehicle entrance and exit points and the generous width of the footway, I do not consider that the proposal would lead to a significant risk to the safety of those using the bus stop.

The applicant Mr Isa Dajci also appealed for a full award of costs against Cheshire East Council. Irrespective of the outcome of the appeal, costs may only be awarded against a party who has behaved unreasonably and thereby caused the party applying for costs to incur unnecessary or wasted expense in the appeal process.

However, a full award of costs was granted because Cheshire East Council failed to submit a Statement of Case in support of its reasons for refusal within the timescales set out. The Council sought to submit a statement after the relevant date but, because the Planning Inspectorate received notification of this request after he'd completed his site visit, the statement was not accepted as late evidence as it would have delayed the issue of the decision.

Paul Singleton, Planning Inspectorate, said "The Council is entitled not to accept the advice of its professional officers and to reach a decision on a planning application which is contrary to the recommendation of those officers. When it does so it must be able to show that it had reasonable grounds for taking that decision and must produce evidence at the appeal stage to substantiate each of its reasons for refusal of planning permission. By not submitting a Statement of Case the Council has failed to explain why it took a decision contrary to the professional advice it received and failed to substantiate the reasons for the refusal of planning permission.

"I find that these failures amount to unreasonable behaviour on the Council's part and that, had the officers' advice been followed, the appeal could have been avoided entirely. That unreasonable behaviour has, accordingly, resulted in the appellant incurring unnecessary and wasted expenditure in submitting the appeal and related evidence. A full award of costs is, therefore, justified."

Tags:
Alderley Road, Car Wash, Cheshire East Council, Planning Appeal, Planning Applications
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Jon Williams
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 2:45 pm
Looks like we are getting a Shines Cars Wash after all then.
David Hadfield
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 4:29 pm
This is outrageous .......
Certain employees working for our Cheshire East Council have, yet again, cost the council taxpayer (you and me) many thousands of pounds and shown this council to be absolutely useless and downright inefficient.

Certain employees working for Cheshire East Council should be sacked for their gross negligence in creating all these unnecessary costs borne by the Taxpayer.

1)The Council did not submit a Statement of Case to the authorities on time.
David Hadfield
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 4:38 pm
2) Unreasonable behaviour by the Council ?

3) This has led to further costs being incurred by the Council with the appellant winning his appeal ?

4) So we, the council taxpayer, has had to fork out EXTRA costs due to the laziness of the Council's employees .... this is just unbelievable.

Are any of the Council's employees going to be SACKED for this nonsense ?

Or will they be promoted ?

This whole sordid episode just sums up the pathetic actions of this Cheshire East Council.
Janet A Taylor
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 5:52 pm
Let down again by planning department at Cheshire East !
Poor show!!
Craig Browne
Friday 2nd February 2018 at 6:53 pm
Dear all,

With regret, I must say that this is not an isolated incident. In the case of Appeal Ref. APP/R0660/W/17/3167572 (1 Orme Close, Prestbury), the Local Planning Authority also failed to submit a Statement of Case within the prescribed timescale; fortunately, on that occasion, it did not lead to an award of costs against the council.

This does lead me to query whether the Planning Department is being adequately resourced, or whether there are simply too few officers being employed and asked to assess or evaluate more applications than they can reasonably be expected to, leading to missed deadlines.

Where any Alderley Edge-related applications have gone to appeal, I have always tried to work closely with the relevant officers, offering whatever help and/or support I have been able to, in order to assist them in meeting any deadlines.

Kind regards,
Craig
David Hadfield
Saturday 3rd February 2018 at 8:12 am
I believe Craig Browne is doing a great job and keeping us fully informed with the workings of the Parish Council and Cheshire East Council, and this is certainly not Craig's fault, but SOMEONE at Cheshire East is responsible for this fiasco and huge cost to the taxpayer ?

I presume The Head of the Planning Department at Cheshire East Council is responsible for all Planning Applications so this disgraceful episode must fall on that person's shoulders.

Once again, everyone is sloping shoulders and no one wants to take the blame presumably

The Head of that department should be sacked for sheer inefficiency, taking with him all the other members of his staff who are also responsible for this total shambolic outcome.

If they're not capable of doing what they're paid to do, get someone else in who can !!
David Hadfield
Tuesday 6th February 2018 at 6:30 am
Furthermore, I'd be more impressed with these so-called "Planners" if they spent some time planning when and where to start filling in the Pot Holes around the County.
The situation of our roads is just an embarrassment and a national disgrace.
Roy West
Tuesday 6th February 2018 at 6:03 pm
I trust that Craig will fight any attempt to make any pay-off to those responsible for this fiasco if they are subsequently dismissed. Inefficient Council Officers have cost us Council Tax payers a fortune over the past couple of years.
Duncan Herald
Wednesday 7th February 2018 at 9:37 am
For the Oldies; 'Balham, Gateway to the South' !
viz 'happy contented people' (its on U-tube: Peter Sellers)
Natalie Husdan
Wednesday 7th February 2018 at 12:13 pm
What a joke. Again. Does Cheshire East have a policy of saying no no no to every planning application they receive without bothering to even look at the paperwork, costing people and businesses money, time and stress having to appeal and appeal again. They are a disgrace. On what reasonable grounds would you say no to this empty eyesore, becoming a car wash/valet business; it is useful for the area, the one at a major junction in Handforth doesn’t create road chaos, and not exactly less pretty than the petrol station that was there before - which caused no problems on that wide road. Does the council actually understand the implications of them incorrectly and unreasonably denying planning applications - this is people’s livelihoods.
Natalie Husdan
Wednesday 7th February 2018 at 10:04 pm
What a joke. Again. Does Cheshire East have a policy of saying no no no to every planning application they receive without bothering to even look at the paperwork, costing people and businesses money, time and stress having to appeal and appeal again. They are a disgrace. On what reasonable grounds would you say no to this empty eyesore, becoming a car wash/valet business; it is useful for the area, the one at a major junction in Handforth doesn’t create road chaos, and not exactly less pretty than the petrol station that was there before - which caused no problems on that wide road. Does the council actually understand the implications of them incorrectly and unreasonably denying planning applications - this is people’s livelihoods.
Pete Taylor
Friday 9th February 2018 at 9:28 am
Perhaps the Head of Planning should be suspended (as a neutral act) until an investigation is completed? That, judging by the five or six investigations already underway should only take nine months and CEC have built £750k of our money into their budget for just such a purpose.

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