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Hart District Council (18 018 342)

Category : Planning > Planning advice

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 12 Apr 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about the content of pre-application advice the Council gave to a developer. This is because the complainant has not suffered a significant injustice as a result of the alleged fault by the Council.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I refer to as Mr B, says the pre-application advice given to a developer for a residential development contains large inaccuracies and fails to consider the impact on his property or the Conservation Area.

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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:
  • 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:
    • Mr B’s complaint to the Ombudsman;
    • The complaint correspondence between Mr B and the Council;
    • The pre-application advice given to the developer.
  2. I also gave Mr B the opportunity to comment on a draft version of this statement.

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What I found

  1. I appreciate Mr B is unhappy with the content of the advice given to the developer. But it does not give the developer consent to proceed with any development yet. In that regard, I note the caveat at the end of the advice says:

“The advice set out above is based on the information submitted but without

the benefit of wider consultation or publicity, and so is made without prejudice

to the consideration of any future application. Although the advice may

indicate the likely outcome of a formal planning application, it is only informal

advice and no guarantees can or will be given about the decision that will be

made on any such application”.

  1. The developer will have to submit a formal planning application, and Mr B will have the opportunity to comment on the proposal.
  2. I therefore do not consider Mr B has suffered a significant injustice as a result of the alleged faults in the pre-application advice, so the Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr B’s complaint. This is because he has not suffered a significant injustice as a result of the alleged fault by the Council.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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