Landowner says planning mistake cost him £500,000

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A LANDOWNER may be more than £500,000 out of pocket after a computer error led Mid Suffolk District Council to issue multiple planning consents for an 81- home development in Thurston.

At an open appeal with planning inspector Barry Juniper on Tuesday, John Oldknow, who owns The Granary in Thurston, said that ‘administrative shortcomings’ at the council had meant his bank refused to fully finance a project to build houses on the site.

Mr Oldknow claimed that three seperate planning consents, including one for 92 flats rather than the applied for 81, had been published on the council’s website.

The confusion meant the bank refused to go on with the project and he was made to repay a £343,000 loan.

He also said he had paid the council £80,000 in planning application fees and £100,00 in legal costs.

Mr Oldknow said he wanted to continue with the development but could no longer fulfil the 15 per cent affordable housing requirement for the project as it would make it financially unviable.

The decision of the hearing into the development, which was originally submitted in 2003, will be made in three weeks.

Mr Oldknow said at the hearing: “The whole thing was set up for the benefit of the village and then the council screwed up these decision notices and flatly refused to help out.

He added: “There is £374,000 of plans there which have been torn up just because you have decided on your own that no-one wants the scheme.

“You must be joking, I cannot believe it.”

A spokeswoman for Mid Suffolk District Council said: “A hearing was held at the council offices on February 14 to consider an application made by Mr Oldknow for the renewal of outline planning permission.

“During the hearing, Mr Oldknow made reference to an application in 2008 for approval of details under the original permission, for which a number of decision notices were issued.

“The council has previously carried out a lengthy investigation into this case and the computer error which occurred causing a number of notices to be issued and has apologised for any inconvenience caused.

“We have been in a regular dialogue to ensure that Mr Oldknow was aware of his options in relation to these notices.

“An offer of a free planning application was also given but was turned down.”