MONMOUTHSHIRE residents embroiled in a planning dispute received a £54,450 pay-out following the council’s “tardy” handling of the case.

Figures obtained from the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales reveal the remedy, paid in 2013, was the highest individual sum paid out by a Gwent local authority in six years.

The residents, identified only as Mr I and Mr C in the case report, complained about the construction of an “overbearing” industrial manufacturing unit at the rear of the properties.

They claimed to have suffered from noise nuisance coming from the development, approved by Monmouthshire County Council’s planning committee in 2012.

The complainants said the council had failed to act after the developers strayed away from the original plans, with the constructed building left unauthorised for 20 months.

In May 2013, the Ombudsman ruled that the council had failed to take reasonable steps to consider the impact the proposed development would have on neighbours’ amenity.

The report said: “These flaws called into question the decision to approve the application in the form it was made.

“The Ombudsman agreed that the unit had not been constructed in accordance with the consent that has been granted and that the development was still unauthorised some 20 months later.

“The Ombudsman considered that the council had been extremely tardy in pursuing this matter.”

A council spokesman said “considerable” time was taken to address the wrong colour cladding being applied to the industrial building.

During this period the building was also soundproofed, with both projects affecting the timescale of enforcement action.

“The council has since introduced a triage system to ensure the most pressing enforcement cases are given the highest priority,” said the spokesman.

“Consequently, it is unlikely that this sort of situation would re-occur. It is also very unlikely that the council would consider a proposal for a new industrial building near existing dwellings without requiring an acoustic assessment as part of the planning application.”

The complaint was upheld, with the council apologising and paying redress of £1,500 to each complainant for the lack of enforcement, and a further £200 while the case was resolved.

Following an assessment by the District Valuer on the impact the development would have had on the value of the properties, the council also agreed to payments of £26,250 and £25,000.

A total of £137,852 in financial remedies arising from complaints to the Ombudsman was paid out by Gwent councils and Aneurin Bevan University Health Board between between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2018.

The overall sums ranged from the highest – £64,185 – paid out by ABUHB to the lowest – £950 – paid by Newport City Council.