Day 6 of the Chepstow Public Inquiry in which the second and third schemes by Telford Homes are being considered (3398/08 and 2393/09 respectively) was the longest day of the Inquiry so far with the Inspector determined to finish proceedings in one final push. The plan for the day was to get through the proposed conditions should the Inspector see fit to approve the scheme(s), to wrap up the Section 106 Unilateral Undertakings, to hear closing statements from the various parties and finally to hear requests for the granting of costs.

The first issue to resolve was the Unilateral Undertaking which is the money paid by Telford to Redbridge to support the increased demand for health and schooling provision, together with other sums for libraries, leisure and art. There were some issues here due to the first document provided by Redbridge indicating that some sums were to be allocated to the sports ground, however, this being private land it was deemed inappropriate by the Inspector. It turned out later that Redbridge meant the adjacent “buttercup field” and all then was accepted.

Next it turned to the discussion of conditions which are attached to a potential approval of either/both schemes to ensure certain concerns are complied with. Redbridge produced a long winded list of conditions which the Inspector condensed down into far fewer and dismissed a few. CRA requested conditions came next, three of which were ours and three of which we really our way of supporting those which the Wanstead Society wished so they would be able to support Scheme 3.

Our requested condition regarding working hours was accepted. Our condition regarding keeping materials, rubbish and site vehicles off road and on site was dismissed. The rationale for this is that there is a need to apply for permission to do this, therefore, there was already sufficient protection against it. Our third condition was to correct an error on a drawing that failed to fully show one of the agreed modifications to Scheme 3 negotiated between the CRA and Telford. As our requested conditions were submitted at the start of the Inquiry there was sufficient time for this drawing error to be rectified in the interim. The three Wanstead Society conditions were dismissed as they would have in effect changed the nature of the applications being considered and this would not have been permissible.

Closing statements came next and given the level of involvment in the proceedings the Inspector afforded the CRA the opportunity to make a closing statement, something which even though it is a Public Inquiry, she had no need to do. Our closing statement was well received, with some frantic note taking/highlighting by the Inspector, which hopefully indicates it was of some use and made some important points. Off the record we got a personal thanks from the Inspector and a well done (in terms of Scheme 3 at any rate which we support) from the Telford lawyer which was pleasing as considerable effort went into its creation by several members of the CRA Committee.

Redbridge then made their closing statement which defended their case being somewhat wider in scope than that indicated by their official reasons for refusal. Finally Telford made their closing statement which deeply criticised this fundamentally “wider” stance adopted by Redbridge. Naturally both summarised and “spun” the evidence presented in the Inquiry to the benefit of their side’s case.

After the lunchtime adjournment (only 30 mins given the amount still to resolve) the Inquiry resumed to hear the claim for costs from Telford. Telford has submitted a claim for a cost award in two parts, firstly a full award to cover the costs of the appeal for both Schemes 2 and 3 and secondly a partial award covering only certain aspects of the appeal.

Interestingly and worryingly Telford are claiming not just the appeal/Inquiry costs for Scheme 3, but also the costs associated with making the Scheme 3 application itself, including all the architects drawings and general administration costs. Their reasoning being that they only proceeded with Scheme 3 because Scheme 2 was rejected, therefore, if Scheme 2 is now approved they have been put to the extra cost of Scheme 3 unnecessarily.

Redbridge counter argued that it was Telford’s choice to produce Scheme 3 and certainly they did not appeal Scheme 2 until after Scheme 3 was launched. Redbridge also argued that if the Inspector found that Redbridge had sufficient reasonable grounds to refuse, even if she subsequently permits either/both, then costs should not be awarded.

The Inspector therefore has two main jobs to do, firstly to determine whether either/both schemes should be granted or refused. Secondly if either scheme is to be granted does the Inspector feel that there was at least reasonable grounds to have been refused and if not what level of costs should be awarded.

In some ways the whole case(s) have to be considered twice as a result of this and perhaps the consideration of whether the schemes are acceptable is the easier case to conclude. We certainly do not envy her job at this point.

Third parties (ie the CRA etc) were not permitted to comment on the costs submission as that is solely an issue between the two main parties. However, one issue we had with the cost submission was brought to the attention of the Redbridge camp who incorporated that argument into their rebuttal.

Below are links to the various documents we have been able to obtain copies for:-

Documentation from Telford Homes

 

Documentation from Redbridge Council

 

CRA Documentation

 

Other Documentation

 Inspectorate Decision Paperwork

NB The above links will be updated over each day’s proceedings and duplicated across each days report.