In granting permission to convert an agricultural building to an office the Council imposed a planning condition that restricted the hours of use of the office to 08:00 to 18:00 Monday to Saturday. Despite representation being submitted before the permission was granted the Council insisted on imposing such a condition even though the office as it believed the without such a condition it could result in harmful development in the context of the existing site and its surrounding amenities. The Planning Inspector could not see that the type of activity associated with an office in this location would cause any harm to nearby residents.
The Inspector granted an Award of Costs against the Council and stated: -
"The condition seeks to control the hours of operation of the office. The reason for the condition refers to protecting the amenities of the occupiers of nearby properties. Yet the Council has failed, in responding to this appeal, to explain how more extensive hours of operation would harm the amenities of anyone living nearby.
Circular 03/09 places clear emphasis on the importance of planning authorities justifying their decisions in all respects at appeal. Yet I have no substantive evidence to explain clearly the specific difficulties the conditions were designed to address. I therefore find that the Council has acted unreasonably in imposing the conditions.
Imposing the disputed conditions has led directly to this appeal. This must have resulted in the appellant incurring expense in making the appeal, utilising the services of a professional agent. Since conditions were unreasonably imposed, this represents unnecessary, wasted expense insofar as the appeal related to those conditions. Accordingly, a partial award of costs is justified."