Full Inquiry cost could fall on to local council

Public enquiry at Wesham Community centre regarding plans to build 100 homes on Mowbreck Lane, Wesham.
Public enquiry at Wesham Community centre regarding plans to build 100 homes on Mowbreck Lane, Wesham.
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A PUBLIC inquiry into plans to build 100 homes in rural Fylde could end up being paid for in full by Fylde Council, after it was forced to back out of the fight against the development.

Developer Metacre Limited is appealing the council’s decision to refuse planning permission for the new homes on Mowbreck Lane, Wesham.

And on Thursday – during the closing speeches – the developer made an application for the costs of the appeal to be met by the council after it offered no evidence as it was unable to disprove the developer’s claims it was a long way off meeting its requirement of a five-year housing supply.

The final cost of the inquiry, which opened last Tuesday, is likely to run into thousands of pounds, but will not be known until the planning inspector’s decision in April.

Making the application for costs, Roger Lancaster, on behalf of Metacre, said: “The council withdrew its evidence from the inquiry on the very morning it commenced without any prior notice.

“The council knew it could not sustain its reasons for refusal well before the inquiry, but gave us no time to submit a new application that would have avoided this inquiry.”

Metacre had argued the council only had a three-year supply of houses or developments in the pipeline, representing a “massive shortfall”. But in a written response read to the inquiry, the council said the developer’s proof of Fylde’s housing deficit was not received until February 14.

It said: “The decision not to present a case was taken as soon as reasonably possible. The council acted quickly.”

A Fylde Council spokesman added: “It’s for the inspector to decide whether to award the costs. If he does, we can object.”

Richard Nulty, a member of Wesham Community Pride Trust said: “It (the cost) is going to be thousands of pounds.

“There’s been someone representing their side and people have been brought in as witnesses.

“These things are not cheap.”

A spokesman for Metacre’s agent, De Pol Associates, said they were not in a position to comment on the inquiry cost.

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