Shropshire Council cleared of wrongdoing over Listed building complaints

Shropshire Council has been cleared of any wrongdoing over the way it dealt with a planning application for a Grade II Listed building.

The Shirehall in Shrewsbury, Shropshire Council headquarters
The Shirehall in Shrewsbury, Shropshire Council headquarters

The council was investigated by the local government and social care ombudsman after a Mr and Mrs A complained that the council failed to take enforcement action against developers who worked on the barn conversion development where they lived.

Those developers breached planning controls and listed building consents in relation to the development.

They included failure to complete works to a listed wall and the clock tower.

The developers also failed to complete rendering, and removed cobblestones from the site.

Mr and Mrs A also complained the council failed to keep them informed about what was happening, and to respond to a complaint made by Mrs A in March 2018.

But the ombudsman found the council had done nothing wrong and threw out the complaint.

The ombudsman said: “I have considered what Mr and Mrs A have told me, together with information provided by the council.

“The site consisted of a Grade II Listed former stable block which previously served a now demolished stately home.

“The then district council gave planning permission and Listed building consent for a residential conversion of the Listed stable block and other retained buildings in 2005.

“The council understood the current developers acquired the site in 2015.

“It was unclear about the exact relationship between the developer and associated companies that have since carried out development works at the site.

“But, officers had no information on file that suggested any company involved in the development had contacted the council.

“Between June and November 2017, residents including Mr and Mrs A, and the parish council, approached the Historic Environment Team on several occasions.

“But, the builders were still on site, and at that stage the matters complained of were snagging issues.

“Also, some issues residents raised were about land outside the red line application site.”

Holiday delay

He added: “Two conservation officers met Mrs A and other residents on site at the beginning of April 2018.

“They viewed and listed all the issues relating to unfinished and/or poor workmanship, and breaches of the original planning permission and Listed building consent.

“The council told me this site meeting was held at Mr and Mrs A’s request, and constituted the council’s response to their complaint in March 2018; they could not hold the meeting sooner, as Mr and Mrs A were on holiday; during the meeting officers explained that legal liability for the defects with the Listed building transferred with ownership; and they had advised that one possible course of action to address the defective works would be to serve Listed Building Enforcement Notices on both the developers and residents.

“Mrs A had reacted angrily to this suggestion, and said this course of action would be unacceptable to residents.”

Delivering his ruling, the Ombudsman said: “I have not seen unreasonable delay by the council in responding to residents’ reports of breaches of planning controls, and also of building regulations.

“These were numerous and some more complicated than others. Where possible, the council had the builders return to the site to complete and/or rectify matters.

“This was reasonable, and in accordance with the council’s enforcement protocol.”

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