Costs Awards In Planning Appeals
Basis for Recovery and Applying for the Same
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Costs awards in planning appeals are not the norm however, these can be a time consuming process and if unreasonable conduct can be demonstrated, there are provisions available for a costs order to be made.
What Is A Planning Appeal?
A planning appeal is an appeal which is lodged usually as a result of being refused a planning application. There are however, a number of reasons why an appeal may be lodged other than the refusal of planning permission, and different types of appeals can be made. Appealing a planning decision is free and should be made within six months of the decision.
When Can You Seek Costs Awards In Planning Appeals?
The usual case in both planning applications and appeals is that each party will bear their own costs. But there are exceptions to this and a costs award may be made in certain circumstances. Both parties, the Applicant, and the Local Authority can apply for a costs award if appropriate.
A claim for costs awards in planning appeals can be made in circumstances where a person involved in the planning appeal behaves unreasonably. An Applicant or authority can make a claim for a costs award if the unreasonable behaviour has cost them money. This can include failure to cooperate with any party to the appeal, missing deadlines, failing to attend site visits or giving incorrect or inaccurate information. This list is not exhaustive, and there can be a number of actions which can cause either party to incur costs.
It has become common practice for the Planning Inspectorate or the Secretary of State to order costs awards in planning appeals if a party has behaved unreasonably, and as a result of this behaviour, has caused another party to incur unnecessary or wasted expense in the appeal process.
In summary, when a claim for an award of costs is considered, the Secretary of State of the Planning Inspectorate will consider the following:
- Has the party applied for costs at the appropriate stage? This is usually before a hearing is concluded.
- Has a party behaved unreasonably?
- Did this unreasonable behaviour cause unnecessary expenses and costs to be incurred?
Costs can also be awarded against an Applicant if they pursue an appeal with no reasonable prospects of success, or they decide to discontinue their appeal. It is therefore important to ensure that there is a good chance of success before lodging the appeal in order to ensure no costs awards can be made against you.
What Costs Can be Claimed?
You can make a claim for costs which relate directly to your expenses in the appeal itself. You cannot claim for costs relating to the original planning application. Costs which can be claimed are those which were incurred during the planning appeal, and may include legal costs which relate to:
- Preparation of the appeal
- Attending hearing or inquiry
- The use of experts to provide advice
- The use of witnesses and their expenses
The power to make a costs award in planning appeals derives from Section 322 and Section 322A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
How Do I Seek Costs Awards In Planning Appeals?
A claim for a costs award can be made to the Planning Inspectorate if a party has behaved unreasonably. There is no formal procedure to seek a costs award.
There are deadlines to be aware of however. The deadline for making costs applications in planning appeals depends on how your appeal will be decided. If your appeal is being heard, you can ask for a costs award at the hearing, providing reasons for the request.
If the appeal is being decided in writing, a written application needs to be made before the site inspection takes place. If a site inspection or inquiry has been cancelled, you need to make a written application no later than four weeks from the date of the notice of cancellation.
The above deadlines are different for claims which relate to:
- A site visit – if for example, somebody did not attend a site visit, you can apply for costs within seven days
- An enforcement notice or withdrawn appeal – in this instance, make an application for costs within four weeks.
If your claim for costs is successful, an order for detailed assessment will be made, and you will then need to reach an agreement with the other party to the appeal about how much money should be paid to you. If an agreement cannot be made, you will need to prepare a formal Bill of Costs and commence detailed assessment proceedings.
It should be noted that you can also be asked to pay costs if you have acted unreasonably. The Planning Inspectorate can make a costs order against you, without anyone requesting a claim for costs.
Whilst this is not the only way to make an application for costs, you can make a claim for costs awards in planning permission by completing a claim form which can be found on the government’s website.
What Happens After The Claim Is Made?
Once the application form has been sent, it will be considered by The Planning Inspectorate. The paying party will be given the opportunity to respond to your claim for costs in writing.
If your claim is successful, you will be awarded costs in full or in part. If you are awarded the full costs, this means you can recover all of your costs, including those costs incurred in claiming for the costs.
The Planning Inspectorate will not make an award on the amount of costs to be awarded, so it remains your responsibility to prove to the other party the amount of costs you should be able to recover and how much the planning appeal has cost you.
If the other party does not pay the costs, you can make a claim for money in the County Court.
What If I Do Not Agree With The Outcome of the Costs Claim?
If you believe that the decision is not in line with the law, you can apply to challenge the same by way of Judicial Review. You will need to apply to the High Court as soon as possible, and usually within three months of the date of the costs claim decision. It is advised that you seek legal advice for Judicial Review proceedings as they can be legally complex.
How Can ARC Costs Assist?
ARC Costs are a team of specialist Costs Draftsman and Costs Lawyers who can assist with recovering or contesting a costs award in planning appeals. We hold extensive experience in dealing with legal costs disputes as an independent party. We can assist you in advising on the merits of and preparing any application to The Planning Inspectorate and, if successful, we will assist with preparing a Bill of Costs to submit to the other party. We can also assist in negotiating the costs you will be entitled to recover.
If you represent a paying party, we have expertise in preparing Points of Dispute and on average achieve a 40% reduction on any Bill of Costs we contest. Few matters proceed to a detailed assessment hearing however, if this is required we are also able to provide legal representation for the same.
Should you wish to discuss your query with us, feel free to contact the team on firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact one of our costs experts directly on 01204 397302.
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