How to claim for compensation against Council

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M
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Hello,

we applied for Prior approval to turn office into dwelling house under the Prior Approval scheme with London Borough of Merton Council.
We made the application in mid June. The Council acknowledged the receipt of the application on 30th July 2013.
We corresponded with the Council till April 2014. The officer in charge indicated that the approval letter will be sent soon but we never received anything.
We started work in Feb 2015. In May 2015 our Freeholder was handed a refusal letter by the Council who infact was carrying out the conversion works on our behalf. The refusal letter was dated the 4th of August 2014 (over a year after the acknowledgement of our application). He stopped all works, started putting back the property as it was. We had already paid him 22K for the works and threatened to forfeit our lease for misleading him and claim all the monies for converting back the property as it was.
We never got the refusal letter. There was no time left for appeal. We filed a complaint with the Council that we never received the refusal letter, the refusal letter has no effect as it was sent after 56 days and their online portal stated Prior Approval not required. They replied with an apology accepting their mistake but we suggested we get Certificate of Lawfulness although admitting that we can go ahead and carry out the works. We were not satisfied with their reply and requested them to escalate the complaint to level 2 on the basis that the Certificate of Lawfulness is not required and to confirm in writing that we can go ahead with the works irrespective of the refusal letter. initially they avoided but later they gave in writing that we can go ahead with the works as the Council did not follow the 56 days deadline hence we have deemed planning.
Now we have had huge emotional stress and financial loss due to Council's decision.
We have written to LGO however I am not sure whether they will deal with our complaint since Council admitted their fault and agreed that we have deemed planning.
OUr freeholder is now refusing to do the works as per our agreement with him and is still in occupation often property and carrying out works. We are currently paying rent and have no income from the property.
Please advise if and how we can claim compensation from the Council.
Thank you.

Muquim
04/08/2015 18:42

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