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A planning chairman was 'in flagrant breach' of his council's protocol on planning probity, the Local Government Om...
A planning chairman was 'in flagrant breach' of his council's protocol on planning probity, the Local Government Ombudsman has ruled.

'Mrs Walnut' (not her real name for legal reasons) complained about the London Borough of Havering's decision to approve planning permission for a block of flats opposite her house. Approval was given after the then chairman of the committee, Alby Tebbutt, used his casting vote.

Mrs Walnut said that, in view of his prior involvement with the owners and developer of the land, Councillor Tebbutt breached the council's protocol and should not have been part of the decision-making process.

The ombudsman said: 'It was essential not only that the committee was impartial, but that it was clearly seen to be so.'

Mrs Walnut said the block of flats, which was considerably higher than surrounding houses, was out of place, took away her privacy and completely overlooked her home.

However, the ombudsman could not say that the application would not have been approved in any case, or that Mrs Walnut's amenity would have been less affected by any different development. But he considered that she suffered some distress from what happened, and had been put to time and trouble in pursuing her complaint.

The ombudsman found maladministration causing injustice and recommended that the Council should pay£200 to Mrs Walnut to compensate her for the distress she suffered and the time and trouble she took, and consider periodically the need to remind members dealing with planning applications of their responsibilities.

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