THE owner of a 1930s bungalow with ‘very limited architectural quality’ has won his bid to knock it down and replace it with new homes.

On his second appeal to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate, Elliott Exley has won permission to replace ‘Fairmount’ in Starkey Lane, Farnhill, with two semi-detached homes, both with parking and a garage.

Mr Exley has also been awarded full costs against Craven District Council which was found by the inspector to have made ‘vague and generalised assertions’ about the impact of the proposal in its defence of the appeal.

Craven’s planning committee, recently the subject of a damning peer review of the council’s planning functions, voted unanimously to reject the application in September last year, despite being recommended to approve it by a planning officer.

The officer at the time said there was no reason to refuse the scheme which had been adapted to take into account comments made by the inspector carrying out the first, rejected appeal for three houses on the site.

But councillors ignored the advice and voted to reject plans for the site for a second time on the same grounds, impact on the conservation area and on the living conditions of neighbours.

Now, Government planning inspector, Timothy Burnham, has said removal of the bungalow would have a neutral impact on the conservation area. The replacement two semi detached houses would reflect other development in the area, would not be an over development and would actually preserve and enhance the conservation area.

In considering the impact on four neighbouring properties the inspector concluded there would be ‘no unacceptable impact on their living conditions’.

In referring to the earlier, rejected appeal Mr Burnham said while every appeal is determined on its own merits, there had been material changes in the two schemes. The number of houses had been reduced from three to two and there had been a greater provision of boundary treatment.

In awarding full costs to Mr Exley, the exact sum of which will have to be agreed between the two parties, the inspector said he had found unreasonable behaviour on the part of the council which had resulted in ‘unnecessary and wasted expense in the appeals process’ and that it had prevented development that ‘should clearly be permitted’.

“The council have made vague and generalised assertions about the impact of the proposal which they have failed to support with any objective analysis and has prevented and delayed development which should clearly be permitted.

“I therefore find unreasonable behaviour that has resulted in unnecessary and wasted expense in the appeals process. A full award of costs is subsequently justified,” he said.