The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) is reminding authorities of the importance of correctly and consistently applying relevant policies when considering planning applications in the Green Belt
When comparing and considering the existing size with the size proposed, councils must take account of all dimensions, including how those dimensions are distributed. They cannot, without reason, select some dimensions and disregard others.
In a decision which criticises St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council for allowing a five bedroom house to replace a dormer bungalow in Green Belt, the LGO has also said councils must apply their policies consistently. The fair treatment of all planning applicants is fundamental to good administration.
Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said:
“To protect the Green Belt, when considering planning applications for replacement homes, councils should take into account a whole range of measurements to ensure any building is not materially larger than the one it replaces
“Planners cannot simply pick and choose the measurements they use but should take into account individual circumstances of the case to determine which are the most relevant. Planners should also be clear and consistent in their decision-making to ensure public confidence in the planning process.
“While it is not my role to say whether the application should have been allowed, I would expect the council to give careful consideration of the proper application of national and local Green Belt policy should another application for the site be received.”
The LGO has recommended the council apologises to the two sets of neighbours who complained and pay each £250 to recognise the time, trouble and frustration and loss of confidence in the authority.
Article date: 14 July 2016