An appeal against Conwy County Borough Council was successful for the redevelopment of the famous old Imperial Hotel in the centre of Colwyn Bay. Having been empty on the upper floors for years the building was rapidly deteriorating and had not been used as a hotel for some 30 years. Nevertheless the Council, somewhat to the bemusement of our client (and ourselves) wanted it retained as a hotel and were objecting on conservation and regeneration grounds for the conversion of the upper floors into residential accommodation.
The owner decided not to wait for the Council's decision and opted to appeal against the Council's 'non-determination' of the application. The matter went to an Informal Hearing and in the lead up to the Hearing itself the Council's officers indicated that if the appeal was successful they would insist upon a 'commuted sum' of money for their Open Space provision. This equated to a figure of £6,800.
The opportunity arose however to question this payment and the need for such a large sum of money towards a residential facility so close to very many other open spaces and play areas. Even though the appellant agreed to prepare a legal undertaking should this sum of money be necessary the Planning Inspector agreed with our arguments, not only on the acceptability of the development itself but also on the lack of evidence justifying the need for this payment of funds to the Council. The appeal was allowed and the commuted sum payment was set aside, resulting in an important and significant victory for our client.