Pounds 50,000 for council planning blunder

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The Independent Online
A LONDON council has been told to pay a record pounds 50,000 compensation to a man whose property has been devalued because the council failed to enforce planning regulations on a neighbouring development.

The local government ombudsman has told Barnet council that it must compensate Michael Lyons for the planning mistakes which took place as the pounds 25m development was being built in 'millionaire's row' in Bishops Avenue, Hampstead, north London.

The Towers, a three storey, 20-bedroom development which has just been sold to an anonymous buyer for less than half the asking price, is higher and nearer Mr Lyons's house than was allowed for by the council planners.

Mr Lyons was satisfied with the original plans but says the changes to the development, built on the site of the former home of the singer Gracie Fields by Relicpride, mean his views and light are obscured.

Last year, the ombudsman, Dr David Yardley, produced a report in which he accused the council of maladministration and ordered it to organise an independent valuation of Mr Lyons's house to see how badly it had been affected by the development.

In the meantime, he also asked it to pay Mr Lyons pounds 250 for his time and trouble in pursuing his complaint, and to improve the liaison between its planning and building control sections.

However, the ombudsman does not have mandatory powers, and the council refused to pay the pounds 250, or the pounds 50,000 agreed by the valuation. It told Dr Yardley that the valuation was 'theoretical and artificial', and claimed that this amount was 'wholly disproportionate to the fault found because the complainant's property had a high value'.

Although modifications were made, Dr Yardley has now told the council that 'good administration and a sense of justice now require that the council provide the remedy I have recommended'.

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