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Council withdraw threat to take Planning Inspectorate to High Court
The council have withdrawn their threat to take an independent cafe owner to High Court over a long-running legal battle.
Redbridge Council threatened to sue the Planning Inspectorate after Stavros Nicola, owner of the Bungalow Cafe, in Spratt Hall Road, Wanstead, was awarded over £10,000 in legal costs.
Mr Nicola appealed after the council issued him an enforcement notice last year instructing him to remove a terrace from his cafe due to a breach in planning regulations.
The council withdrew their notice just before the public enquiry was due to begin in March, on the basis that the awning of the terrace was only used in certain circumstances.
Because the council withdrew its notice before the inquiry, the Planning Inspectorate deemed the authority had acted “unreasonably and without cause” and ordered them to pay Mr Nicola his full bill of legal costs.
After accusing the Planning Inspectorate of acting “irrationally” without resolving the dispute, the council have now decided to withdraw their threat.
A spokeswoman for the council said: “We are not taking this decision to the high court. We do still believe costs should not have been awarded, but it is not in the council’s interests to pursue this any further.
“The council works hard to encourage local businesses, however, we need to balance that with our duty to investigate any breaches of planning law to protect the local area.
“We investigated the café following a complaint from a member of the public. An enforcement notice was served because the council did not believe there was sufficient evidence that the structure had already been in place for four years based on the information we had at the time.”
Mr Nicola is now waiting for the council to pay the costs awarded to him by the Planning Inspectorate.
He said: “Why are they not taking this to the High Court if they believe the costs should not have been awarded?
“The whole scenario has been a waste of taxpayer’s money and a simple conversation at the time the issue was raised could have prevented this whole situation.
“I have been advised that I can pursue them further over this as they have caused me serious distress but I do not wish to pursue this matter further. I would just like the council to pay me the costs awarded to me.”