A DEVELOPER has won its appeal against Darlington Council’s refusal to allow it to convert a former drug rehabilitation centre into flats.

Levy Developments has also been awarded partial costs of the appeal after an independent planning inspector found that the council’s refusal to grant permission for seven flats to be built in the former Elmfield Centre at 29 Corporation Road amounted to "unreasonable behaviour".

The development had been recommended for approval by a planning officer but the council turned down the application made in March 2012 amid concerns over parking congestion and the small size of the proposed flats.

Loading article content

Following an appeal, planning inspector Matthew Birkinshaw visited the site and concluded that there was sufficient parking to accommodate extra residents and that the flats exceeded the minimum required floorspace of 19 square metres.

Jeremy Good, director at England and Lyle who represented Levy Developments, said: “The proposal was backed up with a considerable amount of information including parking surveys which demonstrated that the objectors’ concerns were unfounded.

“It was regrettable that we had to go to appeal with this scheme given the officers' recommendation, but obviously we are delighted with the outcome and by the inspector’s decision.”

In awarding partial costs to Levy developments, Mr Birkinshaw’s report stated that Darlington Council failed to substantiate its decision to refuse planning on the basis of the size of the flats because it used guidelines relevant to houses of multiple occupation, not separate apartments.

He stated that this amounted to “unreasonable behaviour” which led to “unnecessary cost” to the developer in having to address the issue at appeal.

The Corporation Road building used to house the Elmfield drug rehabilitation centre before approval was given in 2010 to move the service to the former Salvation Army citadel on Northgate.