Planning permission - Staff conduct - Building Control unhelpful

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If a member of a council's staff is rude or unhelpful, you have a right to complain to your local authority. You should first contact it to raise the issue. If you are not satisfied with its response, or the issue is not resolved, you should contact a senior member of the local authority to escalate the issue.

If you feel that your issue is not being addressed, you can escalate your case to the Local Government Ombudsman after 12 weeks. 

You should know

  • If your issue relates to a planning application outcome, you should direct it to the Planning Inspectorate
  • The Local Government Ombudsman is there to assist in issues relating to (for example) the conduct of staff, the way that an issue was dealt with, or the implementation of the law, such as inaccurate information about procedures
  • You must give the local authority up to 12 weeks to resolve your issue before escalating the case to the ombudsman 
  • If your issue concerns the outcome of a planning application, you should raise it under planning appeals

 

What if the issue is not addressed?

If you feel that the issue of a planning-application breach has not been dealt with correctly by your council, you have the right to challenge the decision with the Local Government Ombudsman. This only relates to issues involving policies and the way your case was handled; it does not apply if you do not agree with the outcome.

The ombudsman can get involved with your case when the complaint has been open for more than 12 weeks; it is there as the last resort.

It will usually investigate complaints where the evidence suggests that there has been a significant breach of planning control that directly affects you, and where your complaint is about the way the council has dealt with (or failed to deal with) the matter.

The Local Government Ombudsman will independently assess your complaint for free, and give a decision that is binding on your council.

How long do I have to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman?

You have 12 months from when you realise that there is an issue.

What will the Local Government Ombudsman look for?

When you escalate an issue to the Local Government Ombudsman, it will consider whether the council has done something wrong in the way that it went about dealing with a report of a planning breach. For example, the council might have:

  • Unreasonably delayed assessing whether there is a breach of planning control;
  • Unreasonably delayed deciding how serious the breach is, and what action is appropriate;
  • Unreasonably delayed taking enforcement action where it accepts that it is justified;
  • Failed to keep proper records, such as on site visits;
  • Failed to have a written policy on planning enforcement, or failed to take its policies into account when deciding what action to proceed with;
  • Failed to tell the parties involved of its decision, or to keep them informed of progress;
  • Or failed to liaise properly with other departments, such as environmental health or building control.

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