Council landed with hefty bill after spat with rendering firm

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A COUNCIL has been criticised by a planning inspector and landed with a hefty bill for costs after losing a long-running planning row with a local business.

Bradford Council has this week lost a planning appeal brought by Omega Proteins Ltd, which has an animal waste rendering plant called Erlings Works at Denholme.

The council sought to impose restrictions on outside storage and the installation of external plant and machinery when the firm sought renewed permission for a filter bed and rendering plant in July last year.

It was concerned the removal of conditions would lead to further development of the site, a concern shared by some residents who have been campaigning against odours which they have blamed on the business.

The council had argued that imposing conditions restricting storage and other ‘permitted’ development was for the protection of the green belt.

Omega appealed against the planning conditions, arguing they were hindering business growth.

A planning inspector has now sided with Omega, saying the conditions imposed by the council were not necessary. He further ruled that the council had not behaved reasonably in the case.

In a report released on Wednesday this week, planning inspector Richard Clegg said: “I conclude that the council behaved unreasonably in respect of the substance of the case, which resulted in expenditure being incurred unnecessarily...”

The inspector ruled that removing the condition restricting outside storage and the installation of plant would not result in an adverse effect on the openness of the green belt.

It is understood that the costs bill for Omega could be more than £20,000.

The authority used its own in-house experts to fight the case.

Brian Maguire, property manager for the Leo Group, parent company of Omega, said the company was delighted with the Planning Inspectorate decision.

He accused the city council of attempting to “micro-manage” the site.

“Bradford Council has attempted to enforce a condition which has been in place for 14 years and the Inspector has found the condition to be unreasonable.”

Mr Maguire also accused politicians of “interference”.

“Omega Proteins has been the subject of continuous political interference, and this was another attempt, by the council, to micro-manage the operations on site.”

He said the inspector had concluded the council had behaved unreasonably in respect of the substance of the case.

“Yet again, Bradfordians are footing the bill for tens of thousands of pounds due to the council’s unreasonably behaviour.”

Bradford Council said two previous planning inspectors, in 2002 and 2010, had attached conditions relating to the erection of plant and machinery at the site – with the latest inspector taking a different view.

Julian Jackson, the authority’s assistant director of planning, said: “The council believe that the protection of the Green Belt and landscape is extremely important; consequently the request by the Company to remove a condition restricting the erection of plant and machinery on the Erlings Works site without obtaining the council’s permission in the first instance, was refused at the Regulatory and Appeal Committee in July 2013.

“The company appealed the council’s decision and although two previous inspectors in 2002 and 2010 had attached a similar condition to their appeal decisions, the inspector in the November 2013 appeal took a different view. He allowed the appeal thereby permitting the company to erect plant and machinery without the council’s permission within the confines of their site.”

Yesterday local councillor Simon Cooke said he had yet to read the ruling but the inspector’s decision seemed “oddly perverse”.