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Ombudsman blasts council's 'extreme and most serious' planning failure

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Two parish councils are in line for £5,000 after an ombudsman found Hambleton DC guilty of an “extreme and most serious failure of planning administration”.

Local government ombudsman Anne Seex found that Hambleton lost control over flights at Bagby airfield, leading to flying carrying on for so long that the council now cannot take any enforcement action.

Ms Seex said it would be inappropriate to compensate individuals but told Hambleton to pay the money to parishes of Bagby and Thirkleby for community projects.

She also said the council should apologise to residents about the impact of noise mainly from light aircraft and helicopters.

Hambleton should investigate within 12 weeks whether it could impose a discontinuance order on the flights, and then start from scratch by requiring the airfield to seek new planning permission, Ms Seex said.

Bagby had planning permission granted in 1980, limited by name to its then operator, allowing for 40 take-offs and 40 landings a week.

That operator left in 1997 but flights continued in contravention of planning permission.

Ms Seex said Hambleton had never monitored the number of flights and “missed a number of opportunities to notice the unlawful use and to take appropriate action”.

“As a result the unauthorised use became immune from enforcement action and the council has lost planning control over the number of aircraft using the airfield.”

She said this was “an extreme and most serious failure of planning administration.

“It has come about because the council’s planning officers failed to take appropriate action or make appropriate inquiries.”

A council spokesperson said: “Councillors will be considering the report at their cabinet meeting on June 14 before making a formal response to the ombudsman.”

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