Planners slammed over hotel appeal

PUBLISHED: 15:00 03 December 2010

(c) Adam Gault

ELECTED planners are ‘more interested in their next coffee than the next proposal they inspect’, according to a frustrated developer.

Colin Gray and business partner Steven Cooney won an appeal last week to overturn North Somerset Council’s refusal for flats at the Lynton House Hotel in Madeira Road.

But the pair lost in their bid to get the unitary authority to pay their legal fees, which Mr Gray claims run into the thousands of pounds.

This week Colin’s father, David, who works with his son and Steven, and manages security for the closed hotel, hit out at the councillors on the west area committee who refused the application.

He said: “We bent over backwards to follow what the planning officers said we should do, but still the councillors on that committee refused the application.

“They were going round inspecting the planning applications before them, but were really more interested in their next coffee than the next proposal.

“It was all very frustrating for me and Colin and Steven, who now have to take a big hit in the pocket despite being successful in overturning their decision.

“The costs and time wasted were massive, all because the councillors would not follow their own qualified officers’ opinion on granting permission.”

As reported in last week’s Mercury, The Planning Inspectorate backed the pair’s appeal against North Somerset Council for the building of 41 apartments.

It came almost a year after councillors turned down the plans for the derelict hotel, which was badly damaged by fire two years ago.

Going against their officers’ recommendations, they said the four-storey building would be overbearing and represent overdevelopment. But planning inspector Dianne Wride disagreed.

She said the proposal was unlikely to cause any significant impact on neighbouring properties and its size was in line with neighbouring businesses.

But the inspectorate threw out an application by the developers’ for their legal costs to be paid for by the council. The decision was unusual, as often the losing party is ordered to pay its own and the winning side’s costs.

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