No fees clawback allowed

An inspector dealing with an appeal against the refusal of permission for a curling rink in Berkshire has ruled that an applicant is still entitled to a free go for a subsequent planning application, even where the fee for an earlier application has been refunded under the Planning Guarantee (DCS Number 400-012-199).

The application the subject of the appeal was submitted in September 2015. Having had a previous application for a similar development refused in December 2014, the appellant was of the view that he was entitled to a free go, and consequently did not submit a fee. The council, on the other hand, took the view that the application did attract a fee since the fee paid in relation to the earlier application had been refunded under the Planning Guarantee. In the absence of any fee, it declined to register or validate the application.

The inspector recorded that, after careful consideration, the Planning Inspectorate had arrived at the view that the fact that the fee had been subsequently returned by the council under the Planning Guarantee did not preclude a free go for the subsequent application, which was for a similar form of development on the same site. Having found that no fee was payable, the application was therefore deemed to have been valid when it was initially submitted to the council and thus, the applicant had a right of appeal against non-determination and the appeal proceeded accordingly.

This seems right. Otherwise, the value both of the penalty to the council for not dealing with the planning application in a timely manner and of the compensation to the applicant for having suffered a delayed decision is negated.

Planning authorities might wish to alert their validation staff.

The following DCP chapter is relevant: 5.152

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