Council wrists slapped over Milton Keynes planning blunders

A council has had its wrists slapped by a powerful watchdog over faults in the way it dealt with a contentious planning application.

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) has found that Milton Keynes Council caused “confusion” and “limited injustice” to a woman over the way it kept records of a planning application.
It has been given one month to apologise, which it has agreed to do, and three months to prove that it has taken action to stop similar errors happening again.

MK Council

MK Council

The council says it has put processes in place to ensure the LGO’s recommendations are followed.

A Mrs X, whose identity has not been revealed by the LGO, complained about the way the council handled her objections to a plan which she claimed would lead to a loss of light at her home.

The LGO found that the council was at fault over a lack of clarity over its decision-making process for the application, which was submitted and decided during 2018.

It also found that MK Council could not prove or disprove that a site visit had been made. The planning officer dealing with the case had since left the authority.

The council was, however, found not to be at fault over the eventual decision to approve the application. The council said designs had been changed to lessen the impact of the loss of light.

The Local Government Ombudsman said: “The council did not provide clear information on its planning records which caused Mrs X and others confusion and some difficulty in understanding the way the application progressed.

“In particular, it failed to keep a clear record of whether a site visit took place and, if so, a record of what was seen and considered. This caused Mrs X unnecessary frustration.”

It added that the council properly validated and then considered the application through proper processes and considered the impact on property and light.

The council has also been ordered to make its planning application rules clearer so people, including applicants, can understand the rules.

“As the council has agreed to my recommendations, I have completed my investigation,” concluded the Ombudsman.