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Ombudsman probe reveals huge Hackney enforcement backlog

Published: Thursday, 9th June 2016

Local Government Ombudsman investigation concludes that planning authorities must keep track of enforcement action and follow through when promising to act…

An investigation of Hackney Council by the Local Government Ombudsman has uncovered a backlog of 1,500 planning enforcement cases, some dating back to 2001.

This came to light after a man complained to the watchdog that the East London planning authority had spent more than five years unsuccessfully trying to get his neighbour to remove an unauthorised extension.

The neighbour failed to comply with orders made by the Crown Court, continued to build, and prevented council contractors from removing the unlawful extension, which neighbours describe as an ‘eyesore’. The investigation found the complainant had repeatedly had to chase the council for action.

Local Government Ombudsman Jane Martin said planning authorities must keep track of enforcement action, and follow through when they promise to act. She recommended that Hackney should apologise to the complainant, keep him updated on the extension’s removal and pay £2,500 as compensation for injustice.

A spokesperson for the planning authority said: “The council had already taken action against the unauthorised development prior to receiving the Ombudsman report and will fully meet their recommendations, all of which apart from one were initiated by the council before the Ombudsman reported.”

The council has since allocated two officers to go through all historic open cases to decide what further action should be taken.

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Roger Milne