Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 08 Feb 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate Mr B’s complaints about the Council’s decision to refuse his application to remove a protected tree. Mr B has used his right of appeal to the Planning Inspector and we have no power to investigate.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Mr B, complains about the Council’s decision to refuse his application to fell a protected tree. Mr B says the tree is on his boundary and he has had to reposition a boundary fence to accommodate the tree. Mr B also complains about the way the Council handled his application.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
- We cannot investigate a complaint if someone has appealed to a government minister. The Planning Inspector acts on behalf of a government minister. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(b), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered the information Mr B provided when he made his complaint and the documents available on the Council’s website. I sent a draft decision to Mr B and considered his comments before making my final decision.
What I found
- Mr B has explained there is a tree on the boundary between his and a neighbour’s property. The tree has caused the boundary fence to collapse. Mr B wants to remove the tree.
- The tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). The local authority must give permission for any works to the tree. Mr B applied to the Council for permission to fell the tree and the Council refused his application.
- Mr B used his right of appeal to the Planning Inspector against the Council’s decision. The Planning Inspector dismissed Mr B’s appeal.
- The Ombudsman is not a second appeal body and we have no power to change the Council’s decision to refuse Mr B’s application. Parliament has provided applicants with a right of appeal to the Planning Inspector if they want to challenge a Council’s decision on a TPO. Where, as in this case, an applicant has used that right of appeal, the Ombudsman has no power to investigate a complaint.
- The Ombudsman has a general discretion whether to start an investigation. As we cannot investigate Mr B’s complaint about the Council’s decision to refuse his application, we will not investigate a separate complaint about the Council’s handling of the application.
- The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint. This is because Mr B has used his right of appeal to the Planning Inspector and we have no power to investigate.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman