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City Of Bradford Metropolitan District Council (17 016 330)

Category : Planning > Enforcement

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 28 Mar 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr and Mrs B’s complaint about the Council’s decision not to take enforcement action against a neighbour. Further investigation of the complaint is unlikely to find fault by the Council.

The complaint

  1. The complainants, whom I shall call Mr and Mrs B, say the Council has failed to take enforcement action against their neighbour who has built a high wall in the front garden of his property. Mr and Mrs B also complain about the way the Council has handled their complaint.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered the information Mr and Mrs B provided when they made their complaint. I sent a draft decision to Mr and Mrs B and considered their comments before making my final decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr and Mrs B complain their neighbour has built a wall at the front of his property that is 117cm high. Mr and Mrs B say the height of the wall makes it difficult and dangerous for them to enter and exit their driveway. It is hard to see passing traffic or pedestrians, particularly as there is no footpath on their side of the road.
  2. Mr and Mrs B contacted the Council and raised an enforcement complaint. The Council has decided not to take enforcement action.
  3. While Mr and Mrs B disagree with the Council’s decision, the Ombudsman cannot criticise it unless there is evidence of fault with the way the decision was made. Further consideration of the complaint is unlikely to find fault with the Council because it has:
    • carried out a site visit. A planning enforcement officer and a highway engineer visited to consider whether there was a breach of planning control and whether there are any highway safety issues arising from the height of the wall
    • measured the wall and the fence post. The measurements show the wall is 70cm high and the fence post is 117cm high. The Council has explained that under permitted development Mr B’s neighbour could have built a 100cm wall and the Council could not have taken enforcement action. Officers have considered whether the additional 17cm, while a breach, warrants enforcement action. They have decided it does not, after consulting with a highways engineer.
  4. Mr and Mrs B also complain the Council has failed to reply to their complaint correspondence. I will not investigate this as a separate matter. This is because the Ombudsman has a general discretion over the complaints he will investigate and will not normally investigate a council’s complaints handling if he is not investigating the matter that led to that complaint.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because further investigation of the complaint is unlikely to find fault with the way the Council made its decision not to take enforcement action.

Investigator’s final decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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