A GOVERNMENT watchdog has refused to investigate the approval of plans for Durham County Council's new headquarters.

The independent Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has received an anonymous complaint about a "new office building", understood to be the new HQ.

The complainant stated the scheme would "affect the amenity of all residents". But the Ombudsman said it could not investigate as this would break its own rules which limit the types of issues it can consider.

The project in question is described in the Ombudsman’s report as "a new office building (for [the council’s] own use)" – believed to be the county council’s new £50million riverside HQ.

The planned base to replace the ageing County Hall, at Aykley Heads, was given the go-ahead by by members of Durham County Council in March.

But the decision was not officially approved until April 1, following government authorisation to go ahead.

According to the Ombudsman’s report, the complainer, identified only as ‘Mr X’, lives about a mile away from the controversial site of the new office.

But it was felt the plans do not cause any ‘significant injustice’ to Mr X and will not directly affect his property, so they will not be probed.

The report added: “If the complaint relates to the cost of the move then this affects all residents by the effect on council tax.

"The Ombudsman may not investigate complaints which affect all residents.”

The Ombudsman’s rules mean it can only probe complaints which relate to a "personal injustice", such as the impact of increased noise or traffic a development may have on a neighbour.

Coun Amanda Hopgood, leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat opposition group, said she believed the complaint related to the council’s HQ plans.

She added: “The main issue is the access in and out of the site.

"There’s going to be no parking but people will still get dropped off and Providence Row will still suffer from congestion at a time we’re trying to get congestion out of the city.”

Concerns about the HQ plans have focused on the loss of parking from the Sands Car Park the new office is being built on and the increased congestion brought by the 1,000 council employees expected to be based there.

A further 850 staff currently working at County Hall are expected to be moved to the council’s other offices around the county.

The council has insisted moving its base will allow the development of its current Aykley Heads site, potentially creating up to 6,000 jobs.

Durham County Council declined to comment on the Ombudsman’s ruling.