The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: There is no fault in the Council’s decision to discharge a planning condition for a development near Mr X’s home.
- The Council granted planning permission to build six commercial properties near Mr X’s home. Permission was subject to conditions, some of which had to be met before the development could start. Mr X has complained about the Council’s decision to discharge one of these conditions as he does not believe the developer properly complied with it.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints of injustice caused by maladministration and service failure. I have used the word fault to refer to these. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered all the information from Mr X and the Council including the information available to the public on the Council’s website.
- A copy of this decision was sent in draft to Mr X and the Council. I have considered the comments received in response.
What I found
- The Council received an application to build six buildings at a commercial site near Mr X’s home. Following a planning committee meeting the Council gave permission subject to several conditions. The developer had to comply with some of these conditions before the building work started. One of the conditions said the developer must submit a Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP) to the Council to be approved.
- Mr X contacted the Council to complain about traffic to and from the site and discovered the Council had discharged the condition about construction traffic. Mr X is unhappy with the Council’s decision to discharge the condition and has argued the approved CTMP does not include many of the required details. He says the construction traffic causes noise and light pollution outside of normal working hours and is affecting his residential amenity. He believes this would not be an issue if the approved CTMP complied with the original planning condition.
- The Council has said that it consulted the Highway Authority before it discharged the condition and it was satisfied the CTMP met the requirements of the planning condition. It has also disputed the impact of construction traffic on Mr X’s residential amenity. It says the entrance to the site used by vehicles is about 300 metres from Mr X’s home and there should be no need for construction vehicles to use the road leading to his property.
- I understand Mr X does not believe the approved CTMP meets the requirements detailed in the planning condition. However, I am satisfied the Council did consider if the CTMP was fit for purpose before discharging the condition. It also consulted with the Highway Authority. Mr X may disagree, but as the Council considered the suitability of the plan I cannot say there has been any fault. The Ombudsman cannot question the merits of a decision made without fault even if the complainant disagrees with it.
- Mr X is also unhappy the developer has not provided written confirmation to say they will comply with the Council’s Construction Code of Practice. The Council says it did intend to get written confirmation of the developer’s compliance, but instead confirmed this in a meeting. It also says the Code of Practice is not a legal requirement and cannot be enforced. While I understand Mr X would like confirmation in writing I cannot say it is unreasonable the Council has not required this. The developer has agreed to follow the Code of Practice and the Council has provided minutes of its meeting with the developer confirming this agreement.
- There is no fault in the Council’s decision to discharge one of the conditions attached to the planning permission for a development near Mr X’s home.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman