Balerno residents blast 'inefficient' Council which failed to tell them about neighbour's planning application

The couple say they missed out on the chance to object to the proposals.

Saturday, 14th December 2019, 7:45 am
John McKechnie outside his home in Balerno.

A Balerno couple has lambasted the ‘inefficient’ planning department at Edinburgh City Council after an ‘administrative failure’ meant a planning application submitted by a neighbour was approved without local residents being told about it.

John and Margaret McKechnie of Deanpark Place say they would have objected to a planning application for an extension which will ‘block the light’ from their house.

But the McKechnies were not told by the Council that the application had been made, despite a requirement that all neighbours who live within 20 metres of those who made the application must be notified.

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Mr McKechnie complained to the Council and was initially told that he was wrong, and letters had been sent to all residents in the relevant area.

But when he complained a second time the Council admitted that in fact no letters had been sent to him, or to several other residents.

“Whilst the planning application system indicates that notification letters were sent out; having looked into the matter further, there was an administrative failure due to a system change-over which meant that the letters were in fact not sent out as they should have been,” Mr McKechnie was told in an email from a Council Planning Officer.

“I can only apologise for this failure and as a consequence, the lack of opportunity for you to see and comment on the proposals,” the Planning Officer added.

The McKechnies were informed that the Council’s failure to tell them about the application was not enough to make the planning consent invalid, and the only way forward would be to take the matter to court.

“We can’t go to court at our age, we need what money we have for other things,” said Mr McKechnie, 72.

“The extension is going to cut all the light out from the house in the morning,” he said.

“I don’t want to stop the neighbours getting their extension but at the same time I don’t want to be living in darkness.”

Mr McKechnie said he has no problem with the neighbours building an extension, but wants the plans modified to lesser impact his property.

“If it was done properly to correct widths and heights it wouldn’t affect us much,” said Mr McKechnie, who blamed the ‘inefficient’ planning department for its poor handling of the case.

“Our windows are two feet lower than those of the neighbour, and so the extension will affect us even more. We want it to be made lower,” he said.

Mr McKechnie said he asked the neighbours to change the plans but they refused as they would lose money.

The neighbour planning an extension said: “We’ve done nothing wrong. As far as I am aware the letter went out to notify neighbours.

“We also told all our neighbours months ago about the extension we were planning.”

A Council spokesperson said said: “We apologise for this administrative error.

“We’d like to reassure those concerned that although we didn’t have the views of the neighbours when assessing this application, the impact on the neighbouring environment including this garden were considered and whether the extension would cause an unreasonable loss of light.”