Local Government Ombudsman

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Ombudsman criticises Bristol City Council over illuminated sign

Archived press release

Date Published: 23/11/12

Bristol City Council granted planning permission for an illuminated sign without notifying a woman living nearby or considering the effect on her residential amenity, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin.

In her report, issued today, she says: “The Council has indicated its willingness to attempt to have the sign moved. In my view this would be the most suitable outcome. I asked the Council to use its best endeavours to have the sign moved and it responded saying it had done all it could to achieve this. I am not persuaded this is true. There is evidence to show the Council has contacted the agent but it has made no efforts to make direct contact with the company involved. As this is a major multinational business I consider it is possible for the Council to make direct contact."

A resident complained that the Council gave permission for a large illuminated sign near her home without consulting her or considering the effect on her residential amenity.

In response to her complaint, the Council accepted that the decision was not properly taken, and that it should have considered her amenity. However, the Council and the complainant could not agree how to remedy the matter, and so she complained to the Ombudsman.

Although the Ombudsman could not conclude that permission for the sign would have been refused if things had been done properly, the complainant is left not knowing for certain if the outcome would have been different.

The Ombudsman finds maladministration causing injustice and recommends that the Council should:

  • consider if there is more it can do to make contact with the company directly and if so to try again to have the sign removed
  • consider whether there are any formal mechanisms within the planning system for reconsidering the planning decision, and
  • apologise to the complainant and pay her £500 to recognise her lost opportunity to object and £1,000 to recognise the uncertainty and her sense of outrage about the planning decision.

Report ref no 11 014 054