Torfaen pays out over £16k in costs to Lidl and Stagecoach after planning inspector overturns decision
Saul Cooke-Black, local democracy reporter
Torfaen council paid out £16,950 in planning appeal costs after a decision to refuse plans to relocate a Lidl to a bigger site in Cwmbran and redevelop a Stagecoach depot was overturned.
Councillors refused the plans, against the advice of planning officers, due to concerns over traffic and safety leading out of the development.
But a planning inspector allowed an appeal jointly submitted by the discount supermarket and bus company, siding with the applicant over proposed access arrangements to the site.
Torfaen council was ordered to pay out full costs to cover the appeal after the planning inspector said the authority “failed to substantiate its reasons for refusing the application”.
And now figures obtained by the Local Democracy Reporting Service show that the council paid £16,950, inclusive of VAT, to Lidl and Stagecoach.
The plans include demolishing the existing Stagecoach depot on St David’s Road and replacing it with a new Lidl, which will relocate from its store in Woodside Road, Cwmbran.
A new, modern Stagecoach depot is also planned in a vacant part of the site.
A planning inspector’s report said the main issue in the decision was whether the proposed access and servicing arrangements would be “detrimental to highway safety”.
Concerns over traffic were voiced by residents and councillors, particularly over a proposed access to the store off St David’s Road.
But at a planning committee meeting in April, where councillors noted the decision of the planning inspector, Cllr Jason O’Connell said it was “blindingly obvious” the decision was going to be overturned.
Cllr O’Connell claimed the council’s refusal appeared to be based on “hearsay, rumour and speculation”, whereas the applicant had “a considerable wealth of safety-based analysis and technical detail” to support their case.
However, Cllr Janet Jones said she was ‘disappointed’ by the decision.
“I’m quite disappointed that they’ve won the appeal, especially as local people we know how dangerous this roundabout in this area can be,” she said.