A recent case in the Planning and Environment Court resulted in a costs order being made against a local authority.

The case involved an approval that had been given for a development under a Negotiated Decision Notice which replaced an earlier Decision Notice. The earlier Decision Notice acknowledged that the proposal conflicted with a Code but listed sufficient grounds to support the approval notwithstanding these conflicts.

Unfortunately the later Negotiated Decision Notice claimed that there were no conflicts and therefore listed no reasons for approval notwithstanding conflicts.

The approval was challenged and both the applicant and the local authority accepted that the Negotiated Decision Notice should be declared invalid and set aside.

Because the applicant had communicated its acceptance of the invalidity of the approval at an early date, the Court did not make a costs order against the Applicant.

However, the Court was of the view that the local authority should be ordered to pay costs. This was because it was the local authority that had made the error that was the effective cause of the Court proceedings.

As we have previously alerted, it is important to consider costs implications in a strategic sense at an early stage of proceedings and even during the application phase.

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