Bolton Council must cover the cost of an appeal after its refusal of a plan for apartments at the rear of a restaurant was thrown out by the Planning Inspectorate.

Avantgarde Ltd advanced the plan for apartments at the rear of Roka Restaurant, once the Royal Oak pub, more than three and a half years ago in March 2020.

The council approved the proposal contingent on an agreement with requirements for the applicant to contribute around £150,000 towards affordable homes and other services in the area.

However, it was not signed and, last year, the applicant asked for the requirements to be removed on the basis of an increase in the cost of the development.

The Bolton News:

The council refused the proposal contrary to the advice of consultant Dixon Searle Partnership (DSP).

Avantgarde Ltd appealed and, this month, the refusal was thrown out by the Planning Inspectorate.

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The inspector, named as R Morgan, said: "On the basis of the appraisal [last year], DSP agreed with the appellant the scheme would fail to generate sufficient surplus to support affordable homes and other contributions. 

"Having reviewed DSP's conclusions and considered their findings I have no reason to take a different view. The council has not sought to question DSP's conclusions and there is no suggestion the findings are flawed."

Bolton Council must cover the cost of the appeal after it acted "unreasonably".

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The inspector said: "I have no reason to doubt the committee members have an up-to-date understanding of planning policy but in this case they did not have regard to relevant policy. In preventing development which should be permitted, having regard to its accordance with the development plan and national policy, I find the council acted unreasonably. 

"The result was an unnecessary appeal and the costs associated with it. The application for an award of costs is therefore allowed."

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said: "We note the findings of the Planning Inspector and we are disappointed by the decision to award costs against the council in this case.

"However, we will now work to settle the amount."

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.