Nursery seeks justice over mishandled planning case

Wholesale plant supplier seeks judicial review to get expansion back on track

A nursery stock supplier is seeking a judicial review over the mishandling of a planning application by a local authority. Rugby-based R&N Plant Specialists submitted plans to redevelop its 1.6ha site in June 2004 to include a packing shed, plant room, offices, staff toilets and a mobile home for on-site accommodation. Stratford upon Avon District Council asked the firm to pay £220 for its outline application, which the council revised to £1,100 because it thought the company was a machinery specialist. It then dropped the fee to £40, but then requested a further £220. A Warwickshire County Council rural estates department representative visited the site to check the application and the firm’s trading figures for the past three years. The official arrived on site a day earlier than agreed and R&N had to post the relevant information because it was unprepared at the time of the visit. But the county council dated its report 5 November — the date on which R&N posted the information to it. R&N partner Richard Thorpe said: “It’s appalling that a local authority can treat people like this. The next stage should have seen the application presented to a planning committee for final decision. Planning officers failed to do this, deciding themselves to refuse permission. I think this was done to cover up their miscarriage of justice in handling the application.” A district council representative said: “The application was dealt with in the most cost-effective way for the applicant. The company has gone through the council’s official complaints procedure and has received a formal apology from our chief executive.”

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