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North Devon District Council (20 013 632)

Category : Planning > Enforcement

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 21 Apr 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Ms X complains about lack of planning enforcement by the Council. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint because there is insufficient injustice to warrant investigation.

The complaint

  1. Ms X complains about lack of planning enforcement by the Council.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe:
  • it is unlikely we would find fault, or
  • the fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained, or
  • the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered the comments of the complainant and the Council’s responses to her complaint. The complainant has commented on the draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Ms X owns land (Land A) several miles away from her home. She keeps horses on the land and visits regularly. She says that the owner of the land next to Land A has acted without planning permission to develop the land. She says that this has led to several deliveries of soil to the land (which has caused there to be mud on the road); dogs have been kept on the land (which causes a disturbance); in addition to harassment from the owner of the land.
  2. The injustice to Ms X only arises when she visits the land. The complaints about mud on the road and harassment are criminal matters and I consider that this is more appropriately a matter for the Police.
  3. Given this, I am not persuaded that the injustice to Ms X is sufficient to warrant investigation.

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Final decision

  1. I do not intend to investigate this complaint because there is insufficient injustice to warrant investigation.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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