Ombudsman clears Shropshire Council of planning wrongdoing over neighbour's work

Shropshire Council has been cleared by a government watchdog following a complaint by a resident that it failed to clamp down on unauthorised work by a neighbour that was causing her a nuisance.

Shropshire Council offices. Pic: Google Street View
Shropshire Council offices. Pic: Google Street View

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman responded to a complaint relating to a series of planning applications dating back to 2015, when Shropshire Council granted permission for the construction of a garage on a neighbouring property to the complainant, known only  as "Mrs C".

According to the ombudsman's report, the resident complained that the council had failed to control the size of the building, claiming it was higher than the approved scheme and "allowed the neighbour to install two windows overlooking her garden, even though they were not included on the plans". In addition, she said the authority had "caused her nuisance from dust, noise and parking during the building work", failed to allow their local councillor to attend a site visit.

However, the ombudsman said it could not find any fault with the council's actions and cleared it of any wrongdoing.

The complainant first objected to her neighbour's works, the ombudsman’s report says, on the grounds that it would "affect access to her driveway, there would be an increase in traffic and pollution, the neighbour could use the garage for commercial purposes and there was asbestos in the existing garage".

Further objections were then raised in 2017 by Mrs C and another neighbour that the works were not being carried out according to the original plans. 

On investigation, the council found that the residents were correct that the garage under construction was "larger than originally approved", and later invited the applicant "to submit a variation of condition application to rectify this breach".

The finished works were eventually done according to a third planning application, the second resubmission of the original plans.

According to the ombudsman report, the council said that "subsequent actions and applications had rectified the issues and the differences were not significant enough to warrant enforcement action".

The ombudsman’s final report, which was published last month, concluded: "We cannot find fault with the actions the council took."

Planning asked Shropshire Council for a comment but it had not responded at the time of publication.

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