Chichester District Council spent £200k on lawyers to fight appeals

Aerial view of Chichester cathedral.   Picture: Allan Hutchings
Aerial view of Chichester cathedral. Picture: Allan Hutchings

THE amount spent by Chichester District Council on lawyers for planning appeals was more than £200,000 in two years.

Councillor Peter Clementson asked council officers at a meeting on January 28, if there was a record of the amount spent on the external legal representatives to present the council’s case at planning appeals.

In the last two years, the council has required legal and expert witness representation at five local planning inquiries resulting from the council’s decisions to refuse planning permission contrary to officer advice.

The total cost to the council was £220,469, of which £18,179 was recovered through an inspector’s partial award of costs on one of the inquiries, giving a net cost of £202,290.

The five local planning inquiries which required legal representation include a 50-home plan for Park Farm in Selsey, and 50 homes in Bracklesham Bay – the council lost both cases.

Another was a 46-home development at Church Lane in Birdham, which is due to go to appeal in the near future.

The Almodington glasshouses appeal is included in the sum – but this was rejected by the planning inspector at appeal.

And the last appeal which required legal representation was a lawful development case at Stedham Poultry Farm.

Cllr Clementson, ward member for East Wittering, said: “The vast majority of the sum was spent on Almodington which we won.

“We wait anxiously for the approval of our local plan, which will give us far better means to defend our district.”

The Observer put in a freedom of information request asking how much money the council spent fighting planning applications in the last two years.

This will include legal representation, as well as paperwork, and other related costs from planning appeals.

The response was due last Thursday, but the information has not yet been released.