COSTS FOR UNREASONABLE BEHAVIOR
WHAT IS THEIR MOTIVE - Council officers who tow the party line are not only highly paid civil servants, but also stand to benefit from their involvement with underhanded dealings in planning consents in other areas where there may be a "you scratch my back, and we'll scratch yours" arrangement. On the other hand, it could be that insider knowledge can be used legitimately to obtain consents for houses in the country such as this nice little retreat in an out of the way location, that might be termed green belt to the man in the street.
BUSHY WOOD APPEAL
On 3rd, 4th & 5th December 1997 a planning inquiry took place to determine if horses could be stabled at Bushy Wood Farm. This was a bit of a miracle considering officers of Wealden District Council tried every ruse they could think of to prevent Mr & Mrs Punter from applying for permission. The Council's formalities officer told Mrs Punter she might as well spend the application fee on lottery tickets for all the good her application would do her. However, this did not deter Mrs P. from applying.
Mrs P. insisted Mr Stanhope accept her application, which went through the proper channels for consideration by the Council's planning committee. However, the assistant then District Planning officer, another senior planning officer and the Chief Enforcement officer (The Dirty Trio) obviously thought the Committee might pass the application, especially as a petition had made the stables front page news. So, the officers devised a plan to take the Members out of the equation. They would attempt to invalidate the application by destroying the buildings. They would have to be quick.
Unfortunately, for the Dirty Trio, even after they had done their foul deed, the Planning Inspectorate accepted an appeal from Mrs P. A bit of a blow for the Council - why had they not determined the application? Even at this late stage the officers tried to sabotage Mrs P's case by delaying the supply of the Council's defence until just days before the Inquiry was due to commence.
The Inspector ruled these tactics constituted unreasonable behaviour and awarded costs against the extra bundles prepared to counter any argument the Council might run as the Order below shows:-
Naughty, naughty. Surprisingly, these officers were not rebuked for their actions and continue to be employed by this Council, although the senior planning officer was eventually ousted to cover a different area, the assistant DPO was promoted to District Planning Officer. Who said crime doesn't pay? The then Leader of the Council, Mrs Valerie Chidson, resigned shortly after stating publicly that the Council's only errors were little ones. One wonders what a big one would be!
If you've got a similar tale to tell, why not contact the Wealden Action Group. They helped Mr and Mrs P find support and come to terms with their adversary. Our thanks go to Chester Hudson for his sterling efforts putting victims in touch with other victims for support and experience sharing, and to Roger Brown for taking the time and trouble to assemble the information in logical fashion.
THIS SITE CONTAINS MANY EXAMPLES OF THIS COUNCIL'S UNREASONABLE BEHAVIOUR - With thanks to Action Groups across the country for the supply of real case history and supporting documents. *THAT THE PUBLIC MAY KNOW*
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