Darlington Borough Council has been advised to pay compensation to residents whose homes have lost value because of a planning decision.

Local Government Ombudsman Patricia Thomas criticised the council following a complaint from a resident citing concerns about land levels and the height of houses at Baydale Croft, in Brinkburn Drive.

The woman, referred to as "Mrs Whitby" in Mrs Thomas' report, was speaking on behalf of a number of residents in the area who claimed the value of their homes had fallen because of the decision.

The houses affected are in Brinkburn Drive, which used to look out on to the sports fields of Darlington Railway Athletic Sports Club.

The land was sold to developers Haslam Homes North-East, and part of the new Baydale Croft estate towers over many of the residents' back gardens.

In her investigation, the ombudsman found "maladministration causing injustice" and said there was no evidence of the residents' fears of the differing land heights in reports before the council's planning committee.

Her report said: "No reference was made to this in the officer's written report, nor was the detail of the council's policy on protection of amenity and privacy explained.

"Members' recollection of whether the issues were addressed in the meeting varied, and the ombudsman concludes on the balance of probabilities that the matter was not adequately reported to or considered by members.

"She also takes the view, on balance, that some amendment could have been achieved had a site visit taken place."

The council has been recommended to obtain independent advice about the difference in value of the properties if such amendments had been made, compared to the value now, and pay each complainant any difference in value.

She added that the council should pay £250 to Mrs Whitby, the main complainant.

This relates to Mrs Thomas finding that there was a delay in responding to her, preventing her from taking up with the developer the question of who was responsible for a boundary to her property.

Darlington council must now consider the recommendations and report its decisions to the ombudsman.

A spokesman confirmed this action would be taken