Shropshire Council ‘made faults but was correct on planning decision’
Shropshire Council “made some faults” in how it granted planning permission for an extension, but did not break any rules, the ombudsman has ruled.
The complainant, known only as Mr X, objected to the council’s decision to approve a planning application for an extension on land next to his home.
But the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman ruled the council did make some errors but these did not make a difference to the outcome.
A report released by the ombudsman on Monday said Mr X complained about the council approving the application despite similar applications being refused in the past. The ombudsman has not revealed where the plans were for. The report says: “Mr X complains the council approved the application, though similar applications had been refused in the past; the planning history of the case officer report did not show details of earlier applications and refusals.
“Mr X complains the council had refused other applications and is disappointed it approved this most recent one.
“The Ombudsman is not a planning appeal body and we do not comment on the merits of planning judgements in the decision, unless we can show they were affected by some fault in the process.
“We do not compare decisions with each other to decide what should have happened and so we cannot say one decision is more correct than another.
“We can only review the process by which each decision is made, and where we find fault, determine whether an injustice was caused as a result.
“The council’s planning manager said there were two earlier refusals. One was for a single storey extension, the other for a garage and workshop.
“The applicant came back with amended plans for both proposals and these applications were approved.” Mr X complains the case officer report does not record details of earlier decisions to refuse other applications.
The ruling says: “The planning history of an application site is a material planning consideration and we would expect to see some details to show the planning history had been considered.
“There are some references to earlier application decisions in the case officer report under the section headed ‘Site location/description’.
“There is also a section headed ‘Relevant Planning History’, but the only details included relate to the application under consideration, not earlier application decisions.
“A council planning manager has explained what happened. Each site has a ‘Unique Property Reference Number’ or UPRN. The UPRN is identified when the application is validated and the site history is automatically pulled through into the case officer report.
“The manager could not explain why it had happened, but when the application was validated, it was mistakenly given a new UPRN. Because of this, the planning history, which was associated with the original UPRN, was not inserted in the case officer report.
“The planning manager accepts there was fault, because the complete planning history of the site was not recorded in the case officer report.
“The extension is of modest proportions and its siting, design, visual impact and impacts on neighbours and highway safety were all considered before a decision was made.
“I think it unlikely that further comparison would have made any difference to the outcome, but even if it would have done so, I cannot say Mr X was caused an injustice as a result.
“This is because Mr X lives a considerable distance from the side elevation of the building and the extension is in the middle of it.
“The extension windows do not face towards him and the building is not high or bulky enough to reduce light or have an overbearing impact on him.”