Complaint about Cornish equestrian development sparks investigation by Ombudsman
2 Jun 2014 03:59 PM
Cornwall Council has been asked to review its
planning process following a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman
woman, who lived in a quiet part of the county in an Area of Outstanding
Natural Beauty (AONB), complained that the council did not reach appropriate
planning decisions when her neighbour put horses and equestrian facilities on
agricultural land without planning permission.
The LGO’s investigation found that the council’s planning committee
decided that the neighbour could keep some horses on the land, but that
ownership and use of them should be restricted to the neighbour and her family
in order to prevent commercial use.
But councillors were not given the relevant legal advice or told of
officers’ concerns about the decision so they could weigh up differing
views. The council did not record decisions properly – particularly in
relation to enforcement action that should be taken.
This meant that when officers served a notice on the neighbour it did not
restrict who owned and used horses on the land and the neighbour was able to
let the facilities to tenants who used them more intensively that she had done.
Because of this, the woman suffered more disturbance and problems associated
with the keeping of horses near her home.
Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin said:
“The complainant has had to raise concerns with the council over many
months to establish the proper use of the land next to her home, because of the
way Cornwall Council administered planning meetings. This led to many months of
uncertainty over what should be happening on the land.
"I recommend that the council re-examine its processes to ensure that
these sort of planning errors are not made again.”
The LGO has recommended that the council should review all of the planning
issues complained about on the site and review its processes to make sure that
members receive copies of earlier reports and decisions for planning
The council should also ensure that decisions are recorded properly and reflect
the report recommendations to which they refer and also amend its legal
services referral form to require copies of relevant committee decisions.
The council should also pay the woman £400 for the uncertainty caused,
and for the time and trouble the woman has gone to in bringing the