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Noise Blights People’s Lives – High Court Scotches Car Park Plans

Noise blights people’s lives but planning rules exist to ensure they do not have to put up with harmful decibel levels. In one case , the High Court scotched plans for a new car park in a seaside town.

Car Park GateThe owner of a residential block of flats was refused planning consent to create the 16-bay car park for use by residents. Access to it was to be via a narrow route that passed between two homes. The local authority took the view that the development would have an unacceptable noise impact on the homeowners and its decision was subsequently upheld by a government planning inspector.

In challenging the latter ruling, the owner argued that the inspector had misapplied or misinterpreted national policy and guidance in respect of harm to residential amenity arising from noise. He was said to have failed to give reasons as to why he was departing from that policy and guidance and to have reached an unfair conclusion in breach of the owner’s legitimate expectations.

In dismissing those arguments, however, the Court ruled that the inspector had been entitled to judge for himself whether noise arising from the project, in the absence of acoustic protection, would reach harmful levels. There was no dispute that the noise would be noticeable and the inspector had found that its intermittent nature could make it all the more intrusive and irritating for the homeowners.

The inspector had experienced the acoustic character of the area during a site visit and was in a far better position than the Court to reach a judgment on the issue. It was not arguable that he had ignored technical evidence and there had been no unfairness to the owner, in that it was well aware of the case it had to meet.

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