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Swale council issues High Court challenge in row over 700 homes in Minster

Swale council is fighting a decision to pay costs awarded to a developer in a row over 700 homes and is taking the unusual step of issuing a High Court challenge.

After the council lost the appeal over outline plans for a new estate off the Lower Road at Minster, Sheppey, the planning inspector ordered it to pay a contribution towards the legal costs of SW Attwood and Partners.

What the homes could look like at Barton Hill Drive, Minster
What the homes could look like at Barton Hill Drive, Minster

It is not known how much the council could end up paying.

In a report to members ahead of last week's planning committee meeting, head of planning James Freeman said the council had submitted papers to the High Court to challenge against the "partial award of costs" because there were "errors in the planning inspector's decision which counsel have advised are challengeable".

A council spokesman said papers were filed on April 14 and were acknowledged as received by the court on April 23.

The spokesman added: "We don't know, at this stage, what we may be liable to pay should our legal challenge be unsuccessful. The final figure will be subject to negotiation with the appellant in the first instance and, if no agreement is reached, will ultimately be decided by the court.

"The decision to appeal was based on our view that the inspector had been irrational and/or erred in law in his arguments as to why we should be liable for costs."

The site off Barton Hill Drive, Minster
The site off Barton Hill Drive, Minster

The properties are set to be built at Barton Hill Drive.

The planning inspector also gave permission in March for plans for a shop, community centre, internal roads, footpaths, cycleways and parking. Open space, play areas and drainage were also given the green light for the site.

SW Attwood and Partners had referred the application to the Planning Inspectorate after councillors turned down the controversial application last year.

The delay has also led to the widening of the Lower Road between the Cowstead Corner roundabout and Barton Hill Drive being postponed.

The council said it was waiting to hear from the court if its challenge was allowed in the next four to six weeks.

"If permitted, it is likely to be several months after that before any final court decision is made," the spokesman added.

Read more: All the latest news from Sheppey

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