Housebuilder’s legal victory highlights flawed planning system

City & Country now has the go ahead to convert Sundridge Park Mansion into 22 new residential apartments, after it successfully appealed two separate planning applications that had been refused by Bromley Council.

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Additionally, the Planning Inspector has awarded full costs associated with the appeals against Bromley Council, for unreasonable behaviour.

After acquiring the site in 2014, City & Country first submitted a planning application to convert the Mansion into 22 apartments in 2015, which despite an Officers’ Recommendation to approve, was refused at Committee.

City & Country then worked with Officers to amend the proposal to try to achieve a consent prior to Appeal, to achieve a swifter result and to avoid the risks associated with the listed building being vacant, the costs of the Appeal and the associated waste of public money.

This subsequent application for 20 apartments, which was again recommended for approval, was also refused in March 2017.

After the appeal, which was held in May, the Planning Inspector swiftly allowed both Appeals, stating in the Decision Notice that “both appeal schemes represent a commendable response to the challenges of bringing this very important heritage asset back into viable residential use.”

Helen Moore, Managing Director of City & Country, said “This has been an unnecessarily long and arduous process and one which has not only put this stunning building at unnecessary risk, but has wasted public money in these times of austerity. The ultimate decision was delayed by local politics and the interests of a vociferous minority, with expert evidence from the likes of Historic England seemingly completely disregarded.

Moore added, “This is a fundamental flaw of the planning process, where decisions such as these are in the hands of local politicians rather than professional planners and experts. When dealing with nationally important heritage assets, delay is even more damaging to being able to successfully secure their viable future restoration.”