08:20AM, Friday 04 December 2015
The Royal Borough could be facing a hefty legal bill after Legoland Windsor won its appeal to build a new haunted house attraction.
A four-day public inquiry was held at Royal Windsor Racecourse in October after Legoland appealed a decision by the borough’s urban development control panel to refuse its application for the proposed ride.
The government’s planning inspector Robert Parker announced on Friday, November 27 that the ride should be granted planning permission.
Outlining the reasons for his verdict, Mr Parker disagreed with the borough’s argument that the proposed haunted house would harm the green belt and lead to increased traffic.
Mr Parker said: “While I have sympathy with local residents in relation to traffic impacts from Legoland, the council’s decision to refuse planning permission needed an objective basis.
“This was lacking, giving rise to vague and unsubstantiated claims regarding the impacts of the development.
“There is no compelling evidence to link the appeal proposal with an increase in visits or a corresponding increase in traffic.”
He also agreed with Legoland’s argument that the ride ‘would not constitute a headline attraction’ and it only represented a ‘small fraction’ of the park’s appeal.
As well as upholding Legoland’s appeal, Mr Parker ordered the borough to pay the resort’s legal costs in full for causing it ‘unnecessary expense’.
The final costs figure is yet to be decided.
Liz Edwards, Legoland’s head of PR, said the resort ‘welcomed’ the decision of the Planning Inspectorate which agreed with the initial recommendations to borough officers.
She added: “Our desire is now to continue working closely with the Royal Borough on future developments and traffic measures that will benefit the local community.”
Chairwoman of the West Windsor Residents Association, Helen Price, said the outcome came as ‘no surprise’.
She said: “I am surprised that it appears there were no robust discussions with Legoland prior to their resubmission and it was disappointing that no councillor took the time to meet with the Iiquiry inspector.
“The costs will be significant and will have to be borne by council tax payers. The borough should be asking itself if it could have done more to prevent these costs.”
The Royal Borough was unavailable for comment.
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