Ms N complained about the refusal and subsequent grant of a Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Use or Development (s192 certificate) by the Council in respect of her next-door neighbour’s property. She also complained about the grant of retrospective planning consent for the development which had been built other than in accordance with the s192 certificate, and the subsequent application to vary a condition attached to the consent, restricting its occupation to the current occupant.

The Ombudsman found that the development proposed by the s192 certificate application (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 the 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 s192 certificate; the Ombudsman concluded that, on the balance of probabilities, it was unlikely that permission would have been granted in the absence of the s192 certificate. He concluded there was maladministration, both in the grant of the s192 certificate and in the grant of the retrospective application, and upheld the complaint. Ms N had suffered a loss of privacy which had affected her enjoyment of her home and garden, and diminished the value of her property.

The Ombudsman made the following recommendations:

  • That the Council apologise to Ms N for the failings he identified.
  • That the Council review whether the conditions attached to the  retrospective permission had been complied with.
  • That the Council instruct the District Valuer to assess the impact of the development on Ms N’s property, and pay her the difference between the value of her property before and after the development.