The complaint to the LGO was very simple: the Case officer said the cover was compliant when it was not. It was built nearly a meter too wide and 3m too tall – see LGO Findings paras 30-38 about the height.
Even the Council admitted in their response to our Petition that the variation in width was material:- Apart from the width these dimensions are either entirely in accordance with the approved plan, or subject to such minor deviation that they are properly categorised as non-material changes.*
Head of Development Services,
Mr George Mansbridge,
2nd May 2014
The Ombudsman agrees in Paragraph 22:- The Council decided the developer had not built the shed entirely in accordance with the approved plans and so had not met condition 2. The Council decided this was a breach of planning control.
However she had changed her mind by paragraph 23 of her findings:- The Council decided the degree of departure from the plans – less than one metre – was “non-material.”
In the end a Senior Planning Officer persuades the Ombudsman to go for the second option in her summary:- However, the developer built it almost a metre wider than he should have done. There is no evidence of fault in the way the Council dealt with the breach of planning control and its decision not to take enforcement action.
They have given misinformation/misrepresentation to the Local Government Ombudsman according to Peter Dunn and Co., Solicitors, 26-Jan-16 but the Council’s Corporate Lead, Mrs Johnson, denies this:-
- There is no evidence to suggest that there has been deliberate misinformation provided by Council officers to the Local Government Ombudsman, – 1-Aug-16
- I can again advise that there is no evidence to suggest that there has been deliberate misinformation provided by Council officers to the Local Government Ombudsman. – 5-Oct-16
Note the use of ‘deliberate’. Misinformation is by its nature deliberate and one can tell the Ombudsman is struggling with the conflicting views and misinformation given her on page 2. One should have little or no regard for the Senior Planner who misinformed the Ombudsman nor the member of the Council who advised the Corporate Lead:- see examination of both points on page 3.