The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Mr D complains the Council failed to allocate him a serviced plot of land under self-build legislation. He also says the Council wrongly refused his planning application. The Ombudsman has discontinued the investigation. That is because there is no injustice in respect of the self-build issue and Mr D has exercised his right of appeal in respect of the planning decision.
- Mr D complains the Council failed to comply with self-build legislation and should have allocated him a serviced plot within three years of applying. He also says the Council incorrectly advised him about a planning application and subsequently refused to grant planning permission.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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, or
- we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants, or
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
- We cannot investigate a complaint if someone has appealed to a government minister. The Planning Inspector acts on behalf of a government minister. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(b), as amended)
- We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I shared my draft decision with Mr D and the Council.
- Mr D says the Council failed to meet its duties under the Self-Build and Custom House Building Act 2015 (the Act). He states the Council should have offered him a serviced plot within three years of applying to it. I am not investigating this matter further because there is no fault by the Council or an injustice to Mr D. Under the Act the Council is only required to “give suitable permission in respect of enough serviced plots of land to meet the demand for self-builds”. This means there is no statutory duty on the Council to locate a plot of land for Mr D, its role relates to planning permission. The Council has already correctly explained its role to Mr D.
- Mr D also complains about planning decisions by the Council regarding an application for planning permission which he initially withdrew and then resubmitted. Given that Mr D has now appealed to the Planning Inspectorate we cannot look at the second application at all. I see no merit in reviewing the Council’s actions in respect of the withdrawn application because there was no significant injustice to Mr D. He states the main injustice to him is the Council’s decision to reject his application and that is not something the Ombudsman can consider.
- I have discontinued the investigation.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman