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Could this be a first for Stratford District Council?

UNPRECEDENTED moves will be made by Stratford-on-Avon District Council when it meets later this week to consider revoking a planning application for the first time ever — but it could leave taxpayers with a hefty legal bill.

The newest of the district’s 36 councillors, Penny-Anne O’Donnell, who was elected in Ettington ward at a by-election last year, has forced the conversion of three Listed barns at Whitehouse Farm in Idlicote back before the east area planning committee.

Cllr O’Donnell has backed concerns from neighbouring residents, who argue that the planning committee was given incorrect and misleading advice ahead of it approving a revised application in August last year.

A previous application to convert the barns had been rejected by the council and that decision was upheld by an independent planning inspector on appeal.

The council has sought legal advice on the matter and although it has been told there were flaws in the manner in which the planning manager advised the committee on the revised application, it would not provide sufficient grounds for a judicial review of the committee’s decision, which is the usual avenue that is taken to challenge decisions.

But the advice adds that if the council decides to revoke the planning permission — something the advising lawyers described as being ‘draconian and rarely exercised’ — it would have to effectively buy permission back, with the amount of compensation taking into account the subsequent drop in the value of the land and buildings.

The council has not put a figure on that, but a report to councillors by the council’s monitoring officer, Phil Grafton, indicated that it could be high.

Mr Grafton wrote: “If the committee is minded to revoke the permission it should adjourn the hearing to consult with the cabinet (and potentially with full council in a case where the estimated level of compensation is likely to exceed the budgetary framework) with regard to the estimated level of compensation and the potential affect on the council’s budget.”

Cllr O’Donnell said: “The ability to apply for a revocation reflects a transparent and robust planning system and reflects Stratford District Council’s forward-looking approach. I am keen to represent the concerns of my residents and grateful for the opportunity to apply for a revocation hearing.” Steve Bromley, of Bromley Planning, who was the agent for the planning application in question, confirmed that work had not yet started on the barn conversions.

The council’s east area planning committee will meet on Tuesday, 5th June, at Elizabeth House at 6.15pm.

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