The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Mr X complains the Council has unreasonably revoked the permission it gave him to build a crossover to his property . The Council has accepted it was at fault as it failed to realise the land was needed to provide parking to comply with its planning permission for a nearby development. The Council proposes to submit a revised planning application to allow Mr X’s crossover to remain. So we have discontinued our investigation to allow the Council an opportunity to resolve Mr X’s complaint.
- The complainant whom I shall call Mr X complains the Council has unreasonably revoked the permission it gave for him to construct a crossover to allow him to access the drive on his property. Mr X says he wanted the crossover for convenience to ensure he had a guaranteed parking space at his property and for the safety of his family.
- Mr X wants the Council to allow the crossover to remain . Mr X says he has been caused time, trouble, and expense in dealing with the matter.
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 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 have read the papers submitted by Mr X. I considered the Council’s comments on the complaint and the supporting documents it provided.
- Mr X and the Council had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision. I considered any comments received before making a final decision.
What I found
- In April 2019 Mr X applied to the Council to build a crossover to his Council home to access the garden/drive area of the property so he could park his car off the road. Mr X paid an application fee of £86 to the Council’s Housing service and submitted his request. In June 2019 Housing services confirmed it was happy for him to apply for permission from the Highways service for the crossover. The Council requires applicants to use the Highways service to build the crossover. The Highways service inspected the property and advised Mr X it would cost £3765.32 to build the crossover. Mr X agreed and the Highways service built the crossover in January 2020.
- The Council wrote to Mr X in January 2020 advising it had given permission for the crossover in error. This was because the Council gained planning permission in 2017 to develop a site near to Mr X’s property and it had started work on the development in the summer of 2019. The Council explained it needed to provide extra parking spaces for the development as part of the planning permission. Some of the parking was to be provided on the land in front of Mr X’s property. The Council said the crossover breached the planning permission. If it remained it would mean a loss of two of the parking spaces and compromise the safety of the pedestrian walkway being created behind the parking spaces.
- The Council apologised and advised Mr X it needed to remove the crossover. The Council recognised it had made an error and offered to reimburse Mr X £4000 plus any reasonable expenses he may have. The Council confirms this includes the cost of building the crossover, the application fee and £147.88 to cover his time and trouble. Mr X has not submitted any expenses to the Council so far.
- Mr X did not agree to removing the crossover and suggested proposals to enable it to remain. Mr X requested £10000 in compensation excluding the stress and worry caused by the Council’s actions. The Council did not agree to the level of compensation requested or Mr X’s proposals as it would breach the planning permission. The Council said it owned the land and intended to implement the planning permission to construct the parking spaces. It confirmed it had revoked the permission for Mr X to build the crossover as it was granted in error.
- The Council says it is willing to try and resolve Mr X’s complaint to see if the crossover can remain. It is submitting a redesigned proposal for the parking bays in front of Mr X’s property to include the crossover to enable it to remain in place. The Council proposes to provide the parking spaces elsewhere. The Council is currently finalising the details of the technical approval for the new parking bays and crossover. The Council will then carry out a road safety audit as part of the technical approval to ensure the revised designs are acceptable. Once the Council receives approval it will instruct the Highways service to complete the works and will keep Mr X updated.
- The documents show the Council has accepted it gave Mr X permission for the crossover in error due to its need to provide parking outside Mr X’s property for a planning permission. The Council has offered Mr X a compensation payment of £4000 to cover the construction costs and Mr X’s time and trouble. It has also offered to consider refunding Mr X’s reasonable expenses when submitted.
- The Council is now trying to resolve the matter by redesigning the parking bays to include the crossover and may enable Mr X to keep the crossover. It will take several weeks for the proposal to be considered and for a safety audit to go ahead to ensure the revised designs are acceptable.
- If the redesign is acceptable and the safety audit satisfactory it is likely the crossover can remain. This is the outcome Mr X is seeking and will therefore resolve his complaint. Because of this I am discontinuing my investigation into Mr X’s complaint to allow the Council the opportunity to see if it can satisfactorily resolve the matter.
- If the proposed redesign is refused, then it is open to Mr X to complain to us again. We can then consider the complaint and the Council’s offer of compensation should it decide the crossover needs to be removed.
- I am discontinuing my investigation into the complaint to allow the Council the opportunity to resolve Mr X’s complaint.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman