December 7 2013 Latest news:
by Lizzie Dearden, Reporter
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
A watchdog has ordered Redbridge Council to pay Ilford residents compensation after their homes were devalued by a planning error.
The Local Government Ombudsman found the council at fault in allowing a 4m high extension at Apex Primary School, in Ilford, to tower over homes.
Three residents contacted the ombudsman claiming they were not notified about plans for the wall, in Argyle Road, which blocked light and changed the view from the properties.
Permission was granted for the building in April 2009 and work began in July 2011 at the Islamic independent school.
The ombudsman found that while there was not enough evidence to suggest the council failed to notify nearby residents, officers had not properly assessed the design and impact of the building.
Ilford South MP Mike Gapes, who helped the residents with their complaints, labelled the errors “deplorable”.
He added: “It’s not the first time something like this has happened and it won’t be the last unless the council sorts out its planning processes.
“I feel it is urgent that the council takes a long hard look at the functioning of its planning department and whether it is providing the service my constituents expect and deserve.”
Ombudsman Dr Jane Martin found a catalogue of errors, including officers failing to follow the council’s own planning policies, not notifying a resident and failing to update records.
She said: “The approval process failed to take into account the overbearing impact that the wall would have on neighbouring properties and the character of the surrounding area.
“I believe that had there been a full and proper assessment of the design of the development and its impact, the planning application would have been refused.”
Two residents will be paid compensation for the loss in their properties’ value and all three complainants will be given £100 by the council for the “time and trouble” caused.
A council spokeman said: “The council regrets this situation and we’ve reviewed our processes to try to ensure it does not arise again.”