Leeds City Council reprimanded by watchdog over 'misleading' planning assessment

Leeds City Council has been reprimanded by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSO) for failing in its consideration of a planning application for householder development to "properly assess" the potential impact of the works on a neighbouring property and has been asked to make a payment to the complainant.

Leeds City Council: reprimand from LGSO
Leeds City Council: reprimand from LGSO

Responding to a complaint from the resident, the LGSO has found that the council approved plans that would "result in direct overlooking of his private amenity space from a ground floor window", the investigator’s report says.

According to the report, the concerns of the resident, who lives in a bungalow, stem from a planning application by the owners of the neighbouring house to install a new side door and a new kitchen window.

The complainant claimed that the new door in particular would negatively affect him, as it directly faced the bedrooms to the rear of his property and, as it would become the sole entrance to the neighbouring property, that he would likely "suffer noise and loss of privacy from its frequent use".

The report adds that the case officer involved "should have properly assessed" the implications of the development before recommending approval on the grounds that it would only lead to "negligible impact on the neighbours’ privacy".

This assessment, the investigator said, proved to be "misleading for the decision maker".

The ombudsman investigator accepted the argument from Leeds City Council that the neighbour’s new door "would not overlook Mr W’s bedroom windows, which are in the rear elevation of his home", but upheld the view that the original assessment was flawed, and that the council then failed to adequately respond to the complaint.

Subsequently the council has agreed to pay £100 to the complainant for "stress, time and trouble" caused.

The original applicants have since erected fencing along the side of the property at their own expense to protect their neighbour’s privacy, the report said.

Last week, Planning reported that the LGSO had also recently found fault with nearby Wakefield Council for failing to properly assess amended plans for a garage redevelopment and for taking too long to respond to a neighbour's complaint about it.

Also last week, the LGSO cleared Shropshire Council following a complaint by a resident that it failed to clamp down on unauthorised work by a neighbour that was causing her a nuisance.

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