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Watchdog finds delay but will not investigate fully

By Alex Moore | Politics | Published:

Shropshire Council took more than three months too long to tell a concerned resident about the outcome of a planning investigation, according to an watchdog’s report.

But the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman declined to investigate the delay fully, because no “significant injustice” had resulted.

The complainant – referred to as “Mr Q” in the anonymised report – had previously complained that a building was being used as a garage or workshop in breach of planning permission, and the England-wide watchdog found fault with Shropshire Council’s initial investigation and ordered a new one.

The local authority was given a January deadline to tell Mr Q of the outcome, but “it did not do so until May 1”.

The investigator’s report says: “Mr Q complained to us previously about a planning enforcement matter. It concerned a planning permission which permitted a named person to use a building as a garage/workshop.

“The building’s new owner did not have permission to use it in this way.

“We found fault with the council’s planning enforcement investigation. We recommended the council carry out a fresh investigation.”

The previous complaint was decided last November, so the council’s new deadline to notify Mr Q was January 20, 2019, but “it did not do so until May 1”.

The report adds: “The council told Mr Q that the continued use of the building as a garage/domestic store was a ‘technical/trivial breach of planning control which does not warrant the commencement of formal enforcement action’.

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“It told Mr Q’s councillor the owner would need planning permission for a change of use if they used the garage for business purposes or for more than domestic storage.”

The LGO report acknowledges that the council took too long to tell Mr Q, but say it will not investigate further.

“The building continues to be used as a garage/domestic store, so Mr Q has not been affected by a change of use, for example,” it says.

“He undoubtedly suffered some uncertainty because of the council’s delay, but this injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement.”

Alex Moore

By Alex Moore
@TelfordLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Telford.

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