BOLTON Council has apologised to a Horwich man after failing to protect his privacy when a housing estate was built next to his bungalow.

The ombudsman has criticised the council for failure to protect the neighbour from the development, which saw 45 homes built on the disused Fall Birch Hospital site in Fall Birch Road, Lostock.

In October 2007, the council received a planning application to build the homes, which was later approved by councillors despite opposition from residents.

In her report published on Wednesday, Dr Jane Martin, the local government ombudsman, said there were serious flaws in the way Bolton Council approved the planning application. As a result, neither the council’s planning committee nor the complainant, known in the report as Mr K, knew the property next to him would be two metres higher than his, or that the developer would remove trees along his boundary that were previously protected by tree preservation orders.

She finds that, had these issues been raised, the council would have taken action to protect his privacy.

A council spokesman said: “We accept all the findings of the om-budsman’s report and we would like to apologise to the complainant for what has happened.

“We recognise that this application should have been handled differently.

“This matter dates back to 2007, and since then we have undertaken a thorough review of our planning department.

“As part of this we looked at our business and management processes, and we have taken action to make our procedures more robust.”

The ombudsman found a number of faults including impact on neighbours not being addressed, no mention of the rise in land levels and not providing information about which protected trees would be removed.

She gave a number of recommendations inc-luding a council apology to the complainant and a meeting to discuss how the council might now help restore his privacy.

She also recommended the council should pay for work up to a cost of £1,000 to rectify the situation, as well as paying him £500 for his time and trouble in bringing his complaint to her attention.

The spokesman for the council added: “We will now be acting upon all the recommendations in the report.”