Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 22 Mar 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Miss X’s complaint about the Council allowing a developer to widen the road where she lives, thereby incorporating land she owns into the road. This is because she can pursue her claim for compensation in the Courts.
- Miss X complains the Council has granted planning permission allowing a developer to widen the road she lives. They say this allows the developer to take over the verge which they own, removing plants and trees. She wants the Council to compensate her for the loss of the land, trees and plants and the legal costs for changing her property deeds.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A (6) and 34B (8), as amended)
- The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone could take the matter to court. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to go to court. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information provided by Miss X and the Council. She had the opportunity to comment on the draft version of this decision.
What I found
- Miss X says the piece of land outside her home is jointly owned between her and the Council. She says the Council own the east side of the fence and has a maintenance contract for this. But she owns the land on the west side of the dividing fence and there is no maintenance contract with the Council.
- The Council accepts there is joint ownership. However, it states the land has highway rights over it and therefore it is acting legally by allowing the developer to widen the road.
It told Miss X that she may be able to claim compensation for the loss of the land under the Land Compensation Act 1973. However, a claim cannot be made more than 12 months after the work leading to the claim is completed.
- It is not the role of the Ombudsman to adjudicate in land ownership disputes. That is a matter for the courts. So, if Miss X owns the land in question, and thinks the Council has acted illegally by allowing the developer to incorporate the land into the newly widened road, then it is open to her to pursue the matter in court. I consider it reasonable to expect Miss X to use this legal remedy to protect her claimed private property interes.
- Also, Miss X wants compensation for the loss of the land, plants, trees etc. She may be able to make a claim under the Land Compensation Act 1973.
- Therefore, I believe the restriction at paragraph 3 applies and the complaint is outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.
- I will not investigate this complaint. This is because Miss X has a legal remedy to protect her private property interest.
Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman