Maladministration on the part of Flintshire County Council’s planning department as local planning authority (LPA), caused injustice to the complainant, an Ombudsman investigation has found.

The report finds that the development proposed by a Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Use or Development (a “s192 certificate” for an “annexe” containing primary living accommodation to be built in the garden of the next-door property) was not within a class for which planning permission was not required. It was thus not lawful development and the application should therefore not have been granted.

When a retrospective application was made to retain the development (which had not been built in accordance with the s192 certificate) the planning officer had been influenced by the existence of the wrongly granted s192 certificate and the Ombudsman found that it was unlikely that permission would have been granted in the absence of the s192 certificate.

There was maladministration, both in the grant of the s192 certificate and in the grant of the retrospective application. The Ombudsman upheld the complaint.

The LPA’s actions caused “significant injustice” to Ms N, who lives next door.

Commenting on the report, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Nick Bennett, said:

“As a whole, the failings which I have identified mean that Ms N has suffered a significant loss of privacy in both her home and garden, which has affected the enjoyment of her home.”

“In addition, the existence of what is in effect a new house built in the garden of the house next door to her property is likely to have diminished the character and value of her home. The situation caused her immense stress, which I can only conclude is a significant injustice to Ms N.”

The Ombudsman has made a number of recommendations including that the Council apologise to Ms N for the failings identified, and review whether the conditions attached to the retrospective permission had been complied with.  He also recommended that the Council instruct the District Valuer to assess the impact of the development on Ms N’s property and pay Ms N the difference in the value of her property before and after the development.

The Ombudsman is disappointed that the Council has not, to date, agreed to accept his recommendations. The ombudsman expects to hear from the Council by the 28th May in response to the report and recommendation.

To read the report, click here.