Casebook: Ombudsman cases - Inconsistent treatment lands council in trouble

The local government ombudsman has criticised Wansbeck District Council for failing to give equal consideration to two alternative schemes for a house.

The complainant had been granted permission for a house and garage. At the council's request, he excluded land to the rear of the property from its curtilage. His subsequent application for outline permission for a dwelling on the rear part of the land was refused. He claimed that planning officers told him that he would never get permission on the land and decided to sell it for £2,000.

The new owner was then granted permission for a house on the land. The complainant maintained that he had not been notified about the application.

He argued that the council had failed to act consistently in its decision-making and should have consulted him about the scheme, which adversely affected his privacy.

The ombudsman agreed that a catalogue of errors had been committed over the case. However, she took into account the fact that the council had changed the way in which neighbouring properties were identified for possible consultation. She recommended that the council should instruct the district valuer to value the land with and without residential planning permission and pay the difference in price after deducting the £2,000 that the complainant had received from the purchaser.

LPA: Wansbeck District Council; Ref: 03/C/19108; Date: 29 September 2005.

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