Councillors have been accused of being powerless to stop poor planning decisions after a resident complained that a development was “ruining” her property.

Anna Averkiou, who lives on Nursery Road, said the council had admitted making a mistake in a planning procedure that will see a neighbouring semi-detached house converted into three flats for nine people with only two parking spaces.

She said the “completely over-the-top” development on the corner of Farmleigh and Old Farm Avenue had been allowed to go ahead under delegated powers.

These powers allow planning officers to approve applications – usually for small-scale developments – without consulting councillors.

But if residents object to the development, the application should be referred to the planning committee so councillors can consider it.

Ms Averkiou claimed her privacy would be ruined by the development, which backs onto her house.

She said the builders had started to undermine the foundations of her garage, which had developed cracks in its walls.

Speaking at a meeting of Southgate ward forum yesterday (Wednesday, October 3), Ms Averkiou said: “I have been waiting since July for the head of planning to come down and have a look. I rang building control and they have a seven-day waiting list.

“I have spoken to other residents, and nobody is getting a response from Andy Higham (the council’s head of development management). I want to know why he is not being held to account.

“How many other developments have gone through like this? They are ignoring us.

“They admitted in an email there was a lapse in their procedures. Everybody was objecting, so it should have gone to committee – which is what he said.”

Southgate ward councillors said they had called for the application to be brought before the planning committee – but it had not happened.

Labour member for Southgate Councillor Derek Levy said: “It is very difficult to undo a permission that has been granted.

“That, for us as ward councillors, is very frustrating – because we wanted it to go to committee.”

Cllr Levy said all the ward councillors agreed that the development “seemed extreme” and that residents had not been listened to.

But he added it was not a “massive” error and said even if the application had gone to a planning committee, they might not have rejected it.

Cllr Levy admitted the communication between planning officers, Ms Averkiou and councillors had been “tardy at best”.

Other local people present at the forum also raised concerns about planning.

One of them – a Mr Berry – said: “I think it is about time you admitted you, as councillors, have no control over what happens in the planning department.”

He claimed planning officers had allowed a newsagent near Osidge School to be converted into a takeaway despite safety fears over the extractor fans.

People at the meeting also raised concerns over a Berkeley Homes development at Trent Park, which they claimed had led to large-scale tree-felling that was not in the original plans.

Note: At the original meeting, the development was referred to as "nine flats"; this has subsequently been amended.