The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: There is no evidence of fault in the way the Council reached its decision to grant planning permission for a development of single storey residential properties.
- Mr X complains on behalf of a number of local residents. Mr X says the Council has granted planning permission for a housing development which has a detrimental impact on the amenity of people who live next to it. Mr X says the new houses and boundary fencing will have an overbearing impact on surrounding houses due to increased land levels.
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)
- If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have spoken to one of the local residents about the complaint and considered information Mr X has provided to the Ombudsman.
- I have also considered the Council’s responses to Mr X’s complaints and information about the planning application available to the public on its website.
- I gave the Council and Mr X the opportunity to comment on my draft decision.
What I found
- When a council makes a decision on a planning application it can only take certain issues into account. These are often referred to as “material planning considerations.” Examples of material planning considerations include:
- Local and national planning policies
- Overshadowing or loss of outlook
- Impact on local highway
- Private disputes between neighbours
- Ownership disputes over rights of way
- Personal views about an applicant
- In late 2017 the Council received a planning application for a development of single storey residential properties.
- The Council received a number of comments from local people on the application. These were summarised in the Council’s case officer report which was considered by the Council’s planning committee.
- The Council’s case officer report considered the impact of the development on neighbouring properties. The case officer report found the distance between existing properties and the properties on the new development complied with separation distances in the Council’s planning policies.
- The Council’s case officer report also considered the raised land levels and said the single storey properties on the new development would be no higher than two storey properties when positioned next to existing properties.
- The report concluded:
“Mindful of the previous building on site that was two storey in height and had little or no screening between bedroom windows that faced southwards, the amended proposed plans are considered to provide acceptable on-site boundary treatments and spacing distances between properties to be sufficient to protect levels of privacy, outlook and daylight/sunlight provision. The proposals would not therefore significantly or unacceptably affect neighbouring residential amenities”.
- The Council granted planning permission for the development in 2018. The Council imposed conditions on the planning permission removing permitted development rights so properties could not be extended without planning permission. The conditions also required obscurely glazed windows to be put in some properties and retained thereafter to prevent overlooking.
- There is no fault the way the Council reached its decision to grant planning permission for the development. The Council has considered the impact of the development on surrounding properties in line with its policies. The Council has also imposed conditions to restrict the future use of properties to protect neighbouring amenity.
- I have completed my investigation as I have found no fault by the Council.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman