You may have read a recent newspaper report on the recent Ombudsman decision about the Edinburgh Academicals’ planning application in Stockbridge. The article was less than fair or accurate and we’d like to set the record straight.
The complainant made 5 complaints and 1 was upheld. The Ombudsman upheld a complaint that we had misinterpreted guidance from the Scottish Government on the basis that the Planning Committee was not given complete and clear information on why a full transport assessment was not required. The Ombudsman made the point that the interpretation of planning guidance is a matter of professional judgement for the Council but we have to be clear on why and how we are making these judgements. We fully accept this finding and we have written a letter of apology to the complainant. However, the Ombudsman did not call the decision “perverse” as stated in the newspaper.
The adviser to the Ombudsman has said, “it was not possible to say definitely that the submission of a full transport assessment and travel plan would have led to a different conclusion in the determination of the application or whether the decision to accept a transport statement as opposed to a transport assessment was so flawed as to be deemed irrational or perverse, and call the validity of the original consent into questions. This would ultimately be a matter for the courts.”
The decision from the Ombudsman dismissed the other complaints about being too friendly and colluding with a developer. It was recognised that it is the job of planning authorities to engage constructively with developers to increase sustainable economic growth. The Scottish Government encourage us to have pre-application discussions and we are committed to providing this service. The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman may publish the decision on their website in due course.