A 'FRUSTRATED' resident who complained about their neighbour’s extension will receive an apology from Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) over its handling of the case.

An ombudsman report found fault in how WBC ‘recorded its consideration and analysis’ which caused the resident to feel ‘confused and frustrated’.

The resident, referred to in the document as X, objected to plans for their neighbour to build an extension to the side of their house which had window’s facing towards the site. The council approved the plan despite X’s comments. X then complained to the Local Government and Social Care ombudsman to investigate the handling of the case.

The report does not reveal the location of the dispute over the extension.

X was concerned about the natural light reaching their property due to the extension, arguing that it would have a major impact on the quality of their life.

When considering the loss of light, planning officers use a ‘45-degree rule’. To do this, they imagine a 45-degree line from the mid-point of the nearest habitable room window on the neighbour’s property. If the centre of a window lies within the 45-degree angle on both plan and elevation, a significant amount of light is likely to be blocked.

A 25 degree rule is also used to measure possible loss of light. A 25 degree angle is drawn from the affected area perpendicular to the development. If the proposed development comes within the 25 degrees, and does not fall outside the angle, it is unlikely to have an effect.

Although the council’s case report mentioned both of these tests in it’s decision, the case officer made no mention of the 25-degree element of the test.

X complained that the development was in breach of the 25-degree line, arguing that it failed to consider the test in it’s decision.

However, a senior officer at WBC told the ombudsman that even if these tests were not explicitly mentioned in the report, this does not mean they weren’t considered.

With this, the ombudsman report concluded that the fault ‘is about how the council recorded its consideration and analysis, and not that it mistakenly approved an application it should have refused'.

The council has agreed to apologise to X for the ‘confusion and frustration’ caused, which will be issued one month from the date of the final decision.

It has also agreed to review its working practice and procedures in its case officer reports, given the lack of clarity over whether a 25-degree test was applied. Finally, it agreed to consider whether any further clarification is necessary in its design guidance.

The council is expected to provide the ombudsman with evidence that it has complied with the actions.