Incompetent council planning costs restoration £11,500

Published: Friday, 05 April 2019

SUCH is the incompetence of the planning department of Lichfield District Council it has cost Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust over £11,000 by its inadequacy.

This concerning the Trust's Deanslade development and its planning permission, and here is its explanation:

The background

The background to this is that wording about the canal infrastructure that had been agreed between the Trust, Inland Waterways Association (IWA) and Council officers responsible for finalising the Local Plan Strategy in 2015 was not included in the adopted plan, and we have a letter admitting that error of omission. That letter went on to offer the Trust reassurance that the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) would recognise and overcome that omission.

But when this planning application was considered by the Planning Committee in July 2018 the Planning Officer erroneously reported the Trust and IWA’s comments on a quite different application.

Legally unsound

Following our formal complaints this was corrected, but despite several deferments and rewrites of the Committee Report since then to correct a whole series of further errors, the officers’ advice to the committee has continued to misrepresent the funding requirements for the canal works, leading to a decision which, in our expert barrister's opinion, is legally unsound.

Had they not omitted the wording they'd previously agreed, it would have ensured that the bridge at Claypit Lane would be section 106 funded by the developer.

Spent £11,500

We've spent many hours, meetings, emails and £11,500 on a nationally expert planning law barrister trying, in the event to no avail, to ensure that the developer paid through section 106 funding.

In our barrister's opinion and our opinion, planning officers have either misunderstood complex planning law, or simply gone along with the developer in order to meet demanding housing targets. In our opinion, we believe Councillors were misled and forced into approving the application without the canal bridge costs.


So, we spent £11,500 in good faith, but to no avail. We have followed up with CrowdJustice, which as name implies, crowd funds litigation costs. Provided we get enough support we should be able to recoup that money, and put it back in to everyday restoration funding if we get enough support. It's a very professional and supportive operation with lots of experience.

Its advice is that the first few hours are critical in getting pledges, so that the target is reached.

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