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Jolly Boatman mistake 'cost Elmbridge taxpayers thousands'
A mistake by Elmbridge Council in its planning appeal over the Jolly Boatman site has cost taxpayers thousands, the leader of the council said.
The council refused the travel plan condition of the controversial planning application in February this year and Gladedale, the applicant, lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate.
Elmbridge Council lost the appeal in May and residents are now footing a bill of £78,353.60 in costs, the largest awarded against Elmbridge Council since its creation in 1974.
Of the costs being paid out by Elmbridge Council, £59,770.85 is awarded to Gladedale, £9,932.75 for the council’s legal representation and £8,650 for the highways consultant.
During a north area planning sub-committee on Monday, September 30, leader of the council Councillor John O’Reilly asked whether there were lessons to be learned.
Coun O’Reilly said: “The committee collectively got it wrong and our residents are paying for that.
“It is one of the most contentious issues this council has dealt with. We got it wrong, there is no doubt about it and our residents have got to pay a sum of money. It was all done in good faith.
“It is the biggest figure against us since the council began in 1974. It may be a complete one off and can put it down to experience.”
Despite the large costs, Coun O’Reilly said they could have been “larger still” because the bill sent by Gladedale alone amounted to £69,770.85.
Coun O’Reilly said: “That is the figure we ended up with and it is very substantial but it could be much, much worse, say near £100,000.”
The leader also questioned whether planning officers had been treated with the respect they deserved because of how passionately councillors felt about the application.
Molesey South councillor Ian T Donaldson said: “It is our duty to present the views of our community. That is what we were elected to do. We can take officers advice but we don’t have to accept it.”
Councillors agreed the situation could have been different if they had been given more information from Surrey County Council’s highways department.
Coun O’Reilly said there seemed to be a sense of denial among councillors.
He said: “If this was our own money and we had to pay £80,000, I think we would be very uncomfortable. This is a lot of money our residents have to pay because of the decision we made.”
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