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  6. Watchdog criticises council over bungalow error

Watchdog criticises council over bungalow error

Melton Borough Council has been taken to task by the Local Government Ombudsman for deciding to grant permission for a bungalow on the basis of the personal circumstances of the applicant.

This decision was flawed, said the watchdog, as there was no objective evaluation from officers on which to base the decision.

The council allowed a bungalow to be built on land next to the home of the complainants. The site was outside the village envelope for development and the local conservation area. The decision was contrary to officers’ advice and existing council policy.

After the couple complained to the council a revocation meeting was held. But councillors decided the permission should stand.

The couple complained that the development affected their enjoyment of their home and garden and they were misled over the revocation meeting which raised their expectations that the decision could be altered.

The applicant’s reasons for wishing to build a new bungalow included that he was elderly, had disabled status, and that his existing home was subject to multiple flooding. Government advice is that permissions granted just because of the circumstances of the applicant should only be granted “exceptionally”.

The Ombudsman considered why the committee approved the application, contrary to the substantial planning history, to the council’s own policies and to the officers’ recommendation.

The Ombudsman found maladministration causing injustice and recommended that a ‘before and after’ valuation be carried out on the complainants’ property. This should ascertain the impact of the new dwelling on the complainants’ property and the Council should then pay them any difference in value, plus £500 for their time and trouble in pursing the complaint.

Read the Local Government Ombudsman news release and access the report.

Roger Milne

12 May 2011