The Wokingham Paper

Failed planning applications are costing Wokingham taxpayers ‘millions’ warns councillor


FAILED planning applications are costing taxpayers in Wokingham “millions of pounds” every year.

That was the claim by a councillor who has called for a change in the law to prevent repeated appeals by wealthy developers.

Charles Margetts said the average cost for Wokingham Borough Council to fight an appeal is £100,000.

He hit out at numerous applications stretching back 15 years to build houses at Johnson Drive in Finchampstead.

“This site has been the subject of development applications which have been continually rejected and taken to appeal,” he explained.

“Wokingham Borough Council have consistently refused development permissions, as the site is out of the settlement area, not in a strategic development location, and is in an area described as a green wedge, which needs to be retained to protect the surrounding green areas and woodlands.

“Appeals cost around £100,000 which involves costs for lawyers, preparing documents and other matters. I estimate millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is spent every year fighting appeals which is just ridiculous and a waste of public money.

“Planning law needs reform because it permits repeated applications on a site which is continually rejected and taken to appeal.”

Mr Margetts said communities across the borough faced similar situations with the taxpayer left to foot the bill.

As well as the cost of an appeal, a public inquiry can also mean costs of £70,000.

“The fact that around £170,000 of public money will have been spent on just two applications, over a short period of time, really does need highlighting when services are struggling to be maintained in the borough.

“I support Dr Phillip Lee’s campaign that where councils can prove five year land supply developers should pay all the costs of appeal.

“This would stop this endless cycle of repeated applications for the same site and save the local taxpayer a fortune in defending these unnecessary and unsustainable planning appeals.

“Wokingham Borough Council currently has seven year land supply so it is showing it is meeting the Government’s figures for new houses. If a developer puts in an application they should pay all the fees involved.”

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jim frewin

Charles – I totally agree. The planning system is currently biased towards developers and they can simply outspend Councils and objectors. Appeals also seem to favour developers who play the system. During our fight against an application in Shinfield, as residents we were subject to attempted bullying by land agents who suggested that because we were objecting we would be directly responsible for reducing front line services due to the costs of any potential appeal. They of course were not open about their conflict of interests in making these claims. Just one example of how some of the development industry… Read more »