Sunday, 8 February 2009

Planning officer grants residential development on land a developer agreed (by legally binding Planning Agreement) to gift to council as public open space - Development Control Manager bungles and cover up

Page Contents
  1. What happened
  2. The evidence the Local Governemnt Ombudsman conceal, the council maladministration the Local Government Ombudsman condone, and the council officer's lies the Local Government Ombudsman peddle
  3. Conclusions
  4. Photographs & Plans
What happened

Outline planning permission granted to developer, Story Construction Ltd (Story Homes), for residential development subject to a Planning Agreement (section 106 Agreement). Planning condition required approval (prior to commencement of the development) for amenity tree planting scheme to extend the existing avenue of trees along either side of Garlands Road Carlisle. The Planning Agreement also required the developer to transfer to the council land as public open space, including the land to be planted with trees to extend the existing avenue trees.

Developer applies for reserved matters approval (2 planning applications). The plans showed houses with gardens on land that was to be transferred to the council as public open space and planted with trees to extend the existing avenue trees. The planning applications for reserved matters were in breach of the outline planning permission, in breach of the developer's covenants and obligations under the provisions of the Planning Agreement, and contrary to a previous decision of the council.

The council's Delegation of Council Functions to Council Officers (Scheme of Delegation) authorises the Head of Planning Services, Alan Eales, to determine planning applications except where the determination would be contrary to a previous decision of either the Development Control Committee or the council. The 2 planning applications for reserved matters should have been referred to the Development Control Committee as they were contrary to the outline planning approval and Planning Agreement (a previous decision of the council).

The first planning application for reserved matters was not referred to the Development Control Committee. The Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, approved this planning application in contravention of the Council's Scheme of Delegation. That was maladministration.

The second planning application for reserved matters was referred to the Development Control Committee. The Development Control Manager wrote in his submission to the Committee that this application is brought before Members as the Scheme of Delegation cannot be used due to the fact that the two officers to whom delegated powers have been assigned (the Director and Head of Planning Services) are related to employees of the applicant company (Story Construction Ltd). But this was also the case with the first planning application for reserved matters that the Development Control Manager determined in contravention of the Scheme of Delegation.

The Development Control Manager's written submission to the Development Control Committee fails to inform the Members that the planning application was in breach of a condition of the outline permission, in breach of the developer's covenants in the Planning Agreement to transfer land to the council as public open space to extend the avenue of trees. He also failed to recommend to the Development Control Committee to refuse the planning application, or defer a decision to allow the developer to amend the plans so as to exclude the land to be transferred to the council as public open space from the house plots, and thus comply with the outline planning approval and the Planning Agreement. Instead, the Development Control Manager recommends approval. As a result, the council grants approval for houses whose front gardens are part of the land that the developer has covenanted to transfer to the council as public open space. The failure of the Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, to inform the Development Control Committee that the planning application was contrary to the outline planning approval and would frustrate the developer's obligation to transfer land to the council as public open space, was maladministration.

The developer undertakes the residential development and sells the completed houses to various purchasers. A solicitor acting for one of the prospective purchasers writes to the council as the front garden of the house is shown in the Planning Agreement as land the developer had covenanted to transfer to the council as public open space. A number of the house plots were on land the developer had covenanted to transfer to the council as public open space.

The Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, now aware of his blunder, tries to cover it up. He informs the purchasers solicitor that the Planning Agreement will be varied to exclude the gardens from the land to be transferred to the council as public open space. In a memorandum to other council officers he blames the developer, and writes Story's solicitors appear to have erred in selling land that was intended under the section 106 Agreement to be transferred to the City Council as part of the overall open space provision. In fact it was the Development Control Manager who was at fault. It was the Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, who granted approval (in contravention of the Council's Scheme of Delegation) for house plots on land to be transferred to the council as public open space. It was the Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, who failed to inform the Development Control Committee that some of the house plots were on land to be transferred to the Council as public open space.

Resident notifies council of the breach of the planning condition for avenue tree planting, and the breach of covenant in the Planning Agreement to transfer the land to the council as public open space.

Resident makes formal complaint. The complaint was investigated by the Development Control Manager, Alan Talyor, the same inept council officer the resident had complained was at fault. Not surprisingly, the Development Control Manager finds he is not at fault.

Resident requests referral to Board of Arbitration of local councillors. Council officers ignore the request and disregard the council's complaints procedures.

December 2005. Complaint referred to Local Government Ombudsman.

August 2006. The Local Government Ombudsman Investigator, Richard Corney, finds that the issue of the trees in Garlands Road is clearly an issue of public importance. The evidence I have seen suggest the problem arose because of a mistake by the developer rather than the council, and concludes there is no useful purpose continuing the investigation and proposes to discontinue the investigation and close the complaint. Resident makes complaint to Deputy Ombudsman, Neil Hobbs, about Investigator.

September 2006. Deputy Ombudsman writes that he cannot uphold resident's complaint against Local Government Ombudsman Investigator. But LGO Investigator reverses earlier decision and decides to continue the investigation.

May 2007. Local Government Ombudsman final report. This concludes that the council was not at fault in not securing the transfer of the land on which the protected avenue of trees stood. That permission would not have over ruled the section 106 Agreement, which the council could have enforced had it so wished. I accept its reasoning that its main aim of ensuring that the trees are retained has been achieved in any event. This statement is typical of the incoherent, absurd nonsense written by the Local Government Ombudsman. The Local Government Ombudsman finding is perverse, irrational, unhinged, and contrary to any logical conclusion or commonsense. The public have been denied the right of the use and enjoyment of land as public open space due to the incompetence of the inept Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor; the aim of extending the existing avenue of trees has not been achieved; the few trees planted in the private gardens may be removed by the owners; the corrupt Local Government Ombudsman manipulates the facts, conceals the incriminating evidence of maladministration, and lacks the balls to report the truth.

The evidence the Local Government Ombudsman conceal, the council maladministration the Local Government Ombudsman condone, and the council officer's lies the Local Government Ombudsman peddle


The Local Government Ombudsman conceals that the planning applications for reserved matters were in breach of the outline planning permission, and in breach of the Planning Agreement (section 106 Agreement) to transfer land to the council as public open space. The LGO conceals the provisions of the council's Scheme of Delegation. The Local Government Ombudsman conceals that the Scheme of Delegation did not permit the Development Control Officer, Alan Taylor, to grant planning permission for reserved matters as the planning application was contrary to a previous decision of the council (the outline planning permission). The Local Government Ombudsman conceals that the Director and Head of Planning Services, Alan Eales, had declared an interest in the developer (Story Construction Ltd.) and both planning applications for reserved matters should have been referred to the Development Control Committee. The LGO conceals that the Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, failed to notify the Development Control Committee that the 2nd planning application for reserved matters was in breach of the outline planning permission and in breach of the Planning Agreement. The LGO report fails to mention these facts.

The Local Government Ombudsman are so corrupt and prejudiced in favour of councils that they include in their final report evidence relating to case law that was not disclosed to the resident/complainant or included in the draft report. The LGO denied the resident the opportunity to comment on the case law. In fact the case law referred to was irrelevant, as it gave no authority for a council officer to grant planning permission in contravention of a Scheme of Delegation.

The Local Government Ombudsman report is full of inaccuracies, errors and misrepresentations. For instance, the Local Government Ombudsman report states I do not accept Mr J's view that the exercise of delegated authority by the Development Control Officer was unlawful. The resident never stated that view. The resident stated the Development Control Manager acted without delegated authority. The LGO is so corrupt they misrepresent the evidence, and so inept they do not know the difference between unlawful and without authority.

The Local Government Ombudsman findings contradicts the evidence. For instance, the LGO report states nor do I accept that a planning application relating to one aspect of a legal agreement arising out of previous permissions for the whole development meant that the matter had to be referred to the Committee. That statement is perverse, irrational, unhinged, and contradicts the provisions of the Scheme of Delegation. The Scheme of Delegation specifically authorises the Head of Planning Services, Alan Eales, to determine planning applications except where the determination would be contrary to a previous decision of either the Development Control Committee or the council.

The Local Government Ombudsman wilfully misrepresents the facts, manipulates evidence, and peddles the lies and deceit or inept council officers. Council officers claimed that Leisure Services were not in favour of acquiring the open space land. But the Local Government Ombudsman fails to mention that Leisure Services did not make any such representations to the Development Control Committee when the outline planning permission was determined, or when the reserved matter planning applications were determined. The LGO fail to mention that Leisure Services expressed no opinion until after the Development Control Manager's blunder had come to light. The LGO fails to mention that the developer had covenanted to pay a commuted sum of £41200 to the council to cover the cost of maintenance of the open space land. The LGO fails to mention that the open space land was no different to other verge land in the ownership of the council. The corrupt Local Government Ombudsman conceal relevant facts and salient evidence.

The Local Government Ombudsman's finding that the council was not at fault in not securing the transfer of the land on which the protected avenue of trees stood contradicts their own guidelines. The Local Government Ombudsman guidance entitled Good Administrative Practice states that delegation power should not be misinterpreted or misapplied. The guidance gives examples of maladministration where planning officers determine planning applications without delegated authority to do so. But when evidence is given that the Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, determined a planning application for reserved matters in contravention of the Scheme of Delegation, the corrupt LGO ignores their own guidance and conceals the evidence.  The LGO report fails to mention these facts.

The Local Government Ombudsman report distorts and conceals the truth, and their reasoning is perverse, irrational and unhinged.

The Local Government Ombudsman report states. I accept its [the council's] reasoning that its main aim of ensuring that the trees are retained has been achieved in any event. That was not the case. The existing trees were already protected by a Tree Preservation Order. The aim specified in the outline planning permission and Planning Agreement was to extend the existing avenue of trees, and to transfer it to the council as public open space. The few trees that have planted are not protected trees and they may be felled at anytime by the house owners. The public have been denied the right and benefit of the use of the land as public open space. The LGO report fails to mention these facts.

The Local Government Ombudsman report states. That permission [the planning permission for reserved matters] would not have over ruled the section 106 Agreement, which the council could have enforced had it so wished. That statement is irrational, perverse and incorrect. The council could not enforce the Planning Agreement as they had given implied consent to waive the covenant of the developer to transfer part of the land to the council as public open space by granting planning permission for houses and gardens on that land, although the Development Control Manager did not have the delegated authority to grant that planning permission. Alternatively, if the grant of planning permission is not considered to be implied consent to waive the covenant in the Planning Agreement, then there is no rational reason why the council should not enforce the covenant in the Planning Agreement as that is what the Planning Committee had approved in the outline planning permission and the Planning Agreement. The LGO report fails to mention these facts.

Conclusions

The Local Government Ombudsman report is a blatant whitewash of the truth and cover up of council maladministration causing injustice. The LGO findings are based on the lies and deceit of inept and incompetent council officers who lack the integrity to admit their mistakes, and deliberately conceals incriminating evidence of council maladministration causing injustice. The LGO reasons are perverse, irrational, unhinged, and contrary to any logical conclusion or commonsense.

Local residents have been denied the amenity benefit of the use and enjoyment of land that should have been transferred to the council as public open space, but instead is now private gardens. The extension of the avenue of trees has not been achieved, and the few trees that have been planted are not protected, and may be felled at any time by the house owners.

Any rational and impartial person in possession of the full facts would come to the conclusion that the Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, acted without delegated authority in contravention of the Scheme of Delegation, and it was the Development Control Manager's fault that the council granted planning permission for houses on land that the developer had covenanted to transfer to the council as public open space. But the Local Government Ombudsman is neither rational or impartial. The LGO cover up council maladministration.

Council oficers were determined that the Local Government Ombudsman should conceal the incriminating evidence disclosed by the resident because the truth was too embarrassing to the council. If the LGO had found maladministration causing injustice in respect of the open space land, the cost of remedying the fault would be substantial. The council would either have had to acquire the land by compulsory purchase and compensate the house owners, or otherwise try to enforce the Planning Agreement. But it would have been difficult for the council to enforce the Planning Agreement as they had given implied consent to waive the covenant of the developer to transfer the land to the council as public open space by granting planning permission for houses and gardens on that land. Furthermore, the Head of Planning Services, Alan Eales, had declared an interest in the developer, Story Construction Ltd, and the Director of Planning Services, also had an interest in the developer, Story Construction Ltd.

Photographs & Plans



The above plan from the Planning Agreement shows the open space land coloured green. Garlands Road is shown coloured purple. The developer, Story Construction Ltd, covenanted to transfer the open space land to the council. Part of the 'open space' land adjacent Garlands Road are now private gardens, not public open space, and has not been transferred to the council.



The above photograph shows the front gardens of dwellings adjoining the west side of Garlands Road. These gardens are part of the land the developer, Story Construction Ltd, covenanted to transfer to the council as public open space to extend the existing avenue trees. The mature trees in the background are subject to a Tree Preservation Order, the young trees in the foreground are not.



The above photograph shows the front gardens of dwellings adjoining the east side of Garlands Road. These gardens are part of the land the developer, Story Construction Ltd, covenanted to transfer to the council as public open space to extend the existing avenue trees. The trees in the photograph are not subject to any Tree Preservation Order.



The above photograph shows part of the fronts gardens of dwellings adjoining the east side of Garlands Road. Part of these gardens are land the developer, Story Construction Ltd, covenanted to transfer to the council as public open space to extend the existing avenue trees. The mature trees in the background are subject to a Tree Preservation Order, and are part of the existing avenue of trees in Garlands Road.



The above photograph shows part of the public open space and some of the existing avenue trees adjoining Garlands Road. The trees are subject to a Tree Preservation Order.



The above photograph shows some of the mature avenue trees adjoining Garlands Road.