I cannot let the Isle of Wight Council dismiss the four-year catalogue of planning failures which allowed a transport yard to be built in a conservation area as “unfortunate” mapping errors (CP online, 10-02-22). That is simply not true.

At the same time as it was turning a blind eye to protected habitat being destroyed to make way for MCT Transport, the council’s mapping system had clearly correctly identified that Bridge Cottage was in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in a separate application for the house itself. How does the council explain that?

Others had also alerted the council to the sensitivity of the site, including tree felling in the internationally protected area, long before I formally complained.

Even when it could no longer argue about boundaries, development continued.

Some of those “investigation” visits the council told you about were to convince themselves that the original mistake didn’t matter because it would have allowed the development anyway.

The buildings and yard were for the “enjoyment” of the owner’s house, they said, not a business.

Even now and despite the ombudsman’s report the council has still only requested retrospective planning applications for two of the three offending buildings — contrary to both Natural England’s advice and the questions raised by the ombudsman.

The legal case the council said it relied upon to justify giving the first building what it told you was “unintentional” consent, was actually overturned by the High Court.

The judge in that case — where planners had also made a blunder which benefitted the developer — said that “the credibility of the planning system, weighs heavily in favour of quashing the permission”.

The Bridge Cottage development similarly affects the credibility of the Isle of Wight planning department, but it should not have taken an ombudsman to say it.

When I complained the officer who investigated was the same one who initially told me the site was not protected, and who it transpired had been involved in events at Bridge Cottage since 2018.

I was not interviewed. Officers investigated themselves and ignored the questions they couldn’t answer. No independent person was consulted. Such is the council’s complaints policy.

This was never about getting an apology or compensation, but about getting the council to do the right thing.

The ombudsman’s report makes clear the council still has an opportunity to put matters right.

Sadly its response to you suggests it may not do so, calling into question its assurance to your readers that its decision making is of “consistently high quality”.

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