30th Apr 2021
Handling of planning application (other)
Upheld in whole or in part
Non-public interest report issued: complaint upheld
Flintshire County Council
Mr A complained that the Council’s planning department gave planning permission for a house on a new development to be built too close to his property despite this not being in keeping with its planning requirements, policies and Unitary Development Plan (UDP). He was also dissatisfied with the Council’s complaint handling including the robustness of its complaint response.
The Ombudsman’s investigation found evidence that the Council had regard to its UDP when it came to the density of the development and site layout. He also concluded that the Council’s decision that the separation distance between Mr A’s property and the new development was acceptable was not unreasonable. Whilst the Council had failed to ensure respective planning applications addressed finished floor levels, the Ombudsman was satisfied that in relation to the latest planning application the Planning Officer’s report showed that he had referred to the relevant guidance and carried out an assessment. Additionally, photographs provided to the Planning Committee would have enabled it to give some consideration to the ground levels and the relationship with Mr A’s property. The Ombudsman did not uphold this part of Mr A’s complaint.
The Ombudsman did find shortcomings in complaint handling. This, coupled with factual inaccuracies in the complaint response, meant the Council missed an opportunity to identify wider organisational/officer learning to be derived from Mr A’s complaint.
The Ombudsman recommended that the Council apologise to Mr A for the failings in complaint handling and remind its planning officers of the importance of ensuring conditions/guidance relating to finished ground levels are enforced/applied.