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London Borough of Havering (20 010 952)

Category : Planning > COVID-19

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 23 Feb 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint about the Council’s decision to grant planning permission. The complainant has started legal proceedings. Therefore the matter is outside our jurisdiction.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X complains for her father, Mr Y. She says the Council failed to make a site visit or consider the impact on light to Mr Y’s home before granting planning permission for a neighbour’s garage.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. This complaint involves events that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government introduced a range of new and frequently updated rules and guidance during this time. We can consider whether the council followed the relevant legislation, guidance and our published “Good Administrative Practice during the response to COVID-19”.
  2. The courts have said that where someone has used their right of appeal, reference or review or remedy by way of proceedings in any court of law, the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction to investigate. This is the case even if the appeal did not or could not provide a complete remedy for all the injustice claimed. (R v The Commissioner for Local Administration ex parte PH (1999) EHCA Civ 916)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information provided by Mrs X and discussed the complaint with her.

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What I found

  1. Mr Y’s neighbour applied for planning permission to build a garage close to the boundary of his home.
  2. Mrs X objected to the proposal because of:
    • overlooking
    • loss of daylight and sunlight
    • loss of value to Mr Y’s home
  3. The Council decided not to visit the site because of restrictions in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the planning officer used photographs provided by the applicant and several online mapping applications.
  4. The Planning Officer acknowledged that Mr Y may lose some light and outlook. However, this was not considered sufficient to warrant refusing the application.
  5. The Council granted planning permission under delegated authority.
  6. Mrs X complains about the Council’s use of site photos instead of a site visit. However, she has confirmed she has applied for a judicial review of the decision. Her complaint is therefore outside our jurisdiction.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman cannot investigate Mrs X’s complaint as she has started legal proceedings against the Council.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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