Planning blunder cost Town Hall £31k
9:26am Monday 30th April 2012 in News
A WATCHDOG has slammed Bolton Council for “significant failings” in its planning procedures — which led to a £31,500 compensation payout.
The council is having to make the payment to one resident after his neighbour was wrongly granted planning permission for a huge extension.
The two-storey extension in a row of terraced houses in Kylemore Avenue, Deane, blocks sunlight from neighbouring homes, and also prevents residents enjoying the picturesque views of the moors surrounding Bolton.
Officers granted planning permission for the extension without following official planning policies, the Local Government Ombudsman ruled.
The mistake arose when planning officers were told by a manager that previous decisions by councillors should override the council’s policy.
The ombudsman, Anne Seex, said the planning department’s decision “corrupts the proper roles of elected councillors and officials, and represents a significant failing of corporate governance”.
She added: “The council should acknowledge the serious and corrosive nature of the systemic maladministration identified by this investigation.
“It should ensure that all officers and councillors are aware of the public law principles that apply to decisions by public authorities and should ensure planning officers are able to give advice in accordance with their professional opinions and judgements.”
The resident who built the extension declined to comment.
The neighbour who is set to receive compensation, was not available for comment. Following the report by the ombudsman, the council may also have to retract a second planning application, in Mancroft Avenue, Great Lever.
Permission for an extension was granted in 2010 but building is yet to start. Nasim Patel, aged 47, says she needs the extension for her five daughters and a son.
Mrs Patel said: “I have three daughters in one room and two in another.
“Work is about to start.
I did everything in the right way so to be told this now is very upsetting.”
The council could appeal against the ombudsman’s ruling.
A spokesman said: “We have now clarified our policy on household extensions to reflect the expressed views of the planning committee.”
The council refused to say whether disciplinary action would be taken against any planning officers or senior management.
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