Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Parliamentary Ombudsman reports on MAZE case

A report by the Parliamentary Ombudsman analysing how the Planning Inspectorate dealt with a complaint made by MAZE Planning Solutions on behalf of a client has concluded that The Inspectorate's response was 'unfair and unjust'

The ombudsman investigated four cases where The Inspectorate had refused to compensate individuals or organisations for mistakes that had caused the parties to incur extra costs through no fault of their own.

In each of the four cases, The Inspectorate told those affected that it would not offer compensatory payments unless the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman recommended that it do so.

The Inspectorate took this hard line approach because it had taken the decision to abolished its ex-gratia payment scheme in March 2011 as a cost cutting measure designed to contribute towards the organisation's need to make overall savings of around £9 million per year.

The Ombudsman concluded that The Inspectorate's approach to remedying complaints in the absence of a formal scheme was not acceptable.
"The decision not to pay financial remedies without a recommendation from the Ombudsman meant that the Planning Inspectorate expected individual people, in most cases, to bear the costs of mistakes made by the Planning Inspectorate. That was unfair and unjust"
The inspectorate ended up paying compensation totalling more than £100,000 to the complainants - with almost half of that figure accounted for by MAZE Planning's complaint, which related to the handling of enforcement appeals for a motocross track in the Lancashire Green Belt.

In light of the four cases, the Ombudsman recommended, and The Inspectorate accepted, that it should revisit 14 further complaints where compensation had been refused solely as a result of the closure of the ex-gratia payment scheme.

As a result of the report The Inspectorate made further compensatory payments, apologised to the parties involved and said that it had reintroduced the ex-gratia payment scheme to enable financial redress to be provided in appropriate circumstances.

The Ombudsman's report, A false economy: investigations into how people are recompensed for government mistakes is available here

A copy of the case specific report issued to MAZE Planning's client can be made available to interested parties - please email your request to Andrew Watt

Friday, 12 October 2012

Housing Application at Rossendale United

MAZE Planning Solutions has submitted an outline planning application for housing development on the former Rossendale United ground at Dark Lane, Newchurch, on behalf of the owner, Rossendale United Holdings Ltd.  The application follows public consultation undertaken in the spring and proposes a development of 50 family homes, together with a commitment to provide a financial injection to sport and recreation facilities serving the local community in Newchurch.

Rossendale United ceased to be an active football club at the end of the 2009/2010 football season when it was expelled from the Vodkat League because funds were not available to cover the costs of a playing campaign.  Significant debts had built up and there was no way of balancing the books.

In January this year the club’s redundant Dark Lane ground in the Newchurch area of Rossendale was subjected to an arson attack that destroyed the main stand, drawing attention to the need to identify a long term use for the site.

Andrew Watt of MAZE Planning Solutions said:

“We are pleased to have now moved on to the formal planning application process.  It brings the prospect of sorting out the mess that now exists at Dark Lane nearer to a conclusion. 

The need to improve the supply of housing development opportunities in Rossendale Borough is self-evident.  The land at Dark Lane is well suited to help the Council achieve that objective.  It sits in the midst of established housing and residential use is the only realistic alternative for it.

We will work through the application process carefully with the officers at Rossendale over the coming weeks and are hopeful of securing their support and a planning permission early in the New Year.” 

 The proposed development layout can be viewed here.