A PLANNING appeal which allowed Redrow to build a major housing development in Hartford was the costliest in the council’s 10-year history.

New figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that Cheshire West and Chester Council paid £406,515 in an ‘award of costs’ to Harrow Estates following the planning inspector’s decision to allow up to 300 homes on Grange Farm.

CWAC’s planning committee refused the application at a meeting in 2012, but the decision was overturned at appeal, and the development is now known as Hartford Grange.

Cllr Brian Clarke, cabinet member for economic development and infrastructure, said: “The council, acting in its capacity as local planning authority, has a legal duty to consider over 4,000 planning-related applications each year.

“The decisions we take reflect national planning policy and are in line with the council’s adopted local plan. This local plan, sets out the council’s vision for new development in our borough.

“The planning process involves considerable consultation with our residents, both during the local plan process and also for each individual planning application.”

An award of costs following planning appeals is an order for local authorities to pay the applicant the costs – either in part or in full – that they incurred during the appeal process that led to the decision of either the planning inspector or the Secretary of State.

CWAC spent £710,408 on awards of costs between 2014 and 2018.

The most expensive award of costs in 2018 was £36,000 over plans for student accommodation in St Anne’s Road, followed by £12,000 over plans for a Watersports Hub in Lower Park Road – both in Chester.

Meanwhile, CWAC’s most expensive in mid Cheshire was £10,689 over plans to continue the current use of a stable and dwelling in Delamere.

Cllr Clarke added: “Planning can be an emotive subject and developers or objectors have the right to challenge the council’s decisions, which are sometimes finely balanced.

“In 2018 less than two per cent of the planning decisions made by the council were challenged.

“Only a small number of challenges are successful however the council, whilst supporting growth, will not be discouraged from rejecting applications that it feels will ultimately have a negative impact on our borough, our residents and our businesses.”