THE council leader has called on the Planning Inspectorate to ensure Warrington taxpayers do not have to foot the full bill for a new public inquiry over Peel Hall.

An appeal against the Labour-run council’s decision to refuse Satnam’s 1,200-home masterplan for the Houghton Green site was dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate and secretary of state in December 2018.

However, the decision was quashed in the High Court last year – meaning the inquiry must be held again. It will be reopened in the summer.

The Planning Inspectorate is a Government agency, which deals with planning appeals, national infrastructure planning applications and examinations of local plans.

In a letter to the inspectorate, council leader Cllr Russ Bowden confirmed the council objects to the submission of new material linked to transport, air quality and noise as part of the reopened public inquiry.

He also said the costs of it ‘should be shared’, with the inspectorate providing financial support in recognition of its ‘responsibility for the creation of the current circumstances’.

Cllr Bowden added: “The council considers that it would not be appropriate to consider any further evidence or new evidence in respect of these main issues through the course of a reopened public inquiry and that the appropriate route for these matters to be addressed is through the submission of a revised planning application.

“The information was clearly not available at the time of the inspector’s previous consideration and, indeed, is not fully available now.

“As a result of the quashed decision arising from the flaws in the inspector’s report and secretary of state’s decision there is considerable additional cost to the council associated with the reopened inquiry in terms of venue, consultation, barrister fees and officer resource.

“This is compounded by the potential acceptance of a substantial amount of new material that the appellant intends to submit, which the council maintains should be subject of a new planning application.

“The full costs of a reopened inquiry will be significant, running in to tens of thousands of pounds, to revisit issues that the council considers (along with your previous inspector) had already been concluded.

“The consideration of further submissions on these matters will result in a significant, additional, financial burden to the council.”