Inspectors have been accused of allowing ‘substandard’ development plans to go ahead after they were turned down by Arun District Council.
If a planning application is refused, the applicant can launch an appeal – a process that can prove costly to the council no matter who wins.
One of those appeals, to build 46 sheltered flats in Arundel, was dismissed by the inspector but cost the council £20,000 in legal and consultancy fees.
That decision was one of six ‘major’ appeals launched last year, with three of the developments allowed to go ahead.
In a report to the development control committee, members were told: “With particular reference to those ‘majors’ for the 2019 year, it is considered that the decision [by the council] to refuse was absolutely correct but we have received some poor decisions from inspectors who have been satisfied to allow sub-tandard development proposals.”
The report showed that, while Arun was winning more of those appeals, it was still performing poorly compared to other authorities.
Last year, a total of 43 appeals were considered by inspectors – 14 more than in 2018 – with 26 being dismissed.
This added up to a 61 per cent success rate, 23 per cent higher than in 2018 but still short of the council’s own target of 70 per cent.
As a result, Arun stands 321st out of 344 authorities.
The report added: “Whilst the performance of the council does not put it at risk of ‘special measures’ it has to be acknowledged that it is poor when compared to the national average and the performance of our adjoining authorities.”
As well as the Arundel application, the council successfully fought appeals involving: the appearance and layout of 38 homes in Barnham and 10 detached houses in Littlehampton.