Wholesale market operation threatened without adequate noise mitigation measures

Outline planning permission for housing on a vacant industrial site in the west Midlands was denied, an inspector accepting the appellant's claim that it had been actively marketed but also expressing concern regarding the impact of noise from a nearby wholesale market.

The council identified the site as being of good quality and highlighted a shortage of such land within its area. It also expressed concerns regarding the quality and length of the marketing campaign, claiming that it had not been continuous for a period of 24 months. In response, the appellant stated that marketing had started in mid-2012 and this had included marketing boards, brochures and advertising on web sites. ‘Soft’ marketing had also occurred involving a confidential mailshot to targeted recipients.

In reviewing the evidence the inspector was satisfied that whilst the headline description of the site in a marketing brochure as a ‘mixed land use opportunity’ was comparatively misleading, subsequent descriptions including clear reference to the site as employment land clarified the position. Moreover, despite the construction of the HS2 railway line being likely to require approximately 100 occupiers to relocate and find new premises, the appellant had confirmed that none of them had expressed an interest in relocating onto the site which had been cleared of buildings. Nor was the evidence of future demand for more space by the wholesale market compelling.

The appellant had proposed various measures to deal with noise from the railway line and the market, the latter operating 24 hours per day. There was a reliance on closed window units and mechanical ventilation which would undoubtedly diminish the quality of living conditions. A five metre high acoustic fence was also required but this did not extend the entire length of the boundary and would not mitigate noise generated by the market’s recycling centre. The city council as landowner of the market had confirmed that it would not agree to erecting a barrier on its land even if the appellant met the full cost. In the absence of any agreement, imposing a condition requiring its provision would be unreasonable and this was sufficient for the inspector to dismiss the appeal.

Inspector: M Seaton; Hearing

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