A man complains the council has not taken direct action to remove an unauthorised extension built by his neighbour in 2006 and subject to an enforcement notice issued in February 2009.
The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault causing injustice.
To remedy the injustice caused, the council should:
- apologise to the man for the fault causing injustice identified in our report;
- pay the man £2,500 in recognition of his injustice (£500 for his uncertainty and time and trouble and a further £2,000 to reflect the impact of the unauthorised development);
- agree to provide as a minimum, monthly updates to the man (copied to our office) on the progress of its direct action to remove the unauthorised development (or such other action it might take in respect of that unauthorised development) until it has been removed;
- complete the draft of its enforcement strategy and include reference in there to keeping in touch with those who report breaches of planning control (basic good administrative practice would be for the council to keep in touch monthly or as it should specify on a case-by-case basis);
- introduce a procedure for cases where direct action is appropriate to remedy breaches of planning control; this should include setting out the circumstances where such action is considered appropriate as well as process advice for officers on commissioning contractors; authorising expenditure and so on;
- ensure our report is considered as part of the council's future budgetary planning for its enforcement service; the council will consider what staffing level needs to be maintained in the future to prevent another backlog of cases recurring.
The council has agreed to carry out these recommendations within one month of the date of our report (10 May).
Ombudsman satisfied with council's response: 30 September 2016