Extensions for religious use refused for noise and disturbance

Rear and side extensions to a south east London Victorian flatted dwelling for religious use were refused for significant harm to the living conditions of residential occupiers of the host building and others adjoining, despite a favourable pre-application and officer recommendation. An award of costs against the council was also refused.

The inspector’s overriding concern was the proposed hours of use of the place of worship and its impact on the existing occupiers of the building who resided in three flats attached. The council had estimated that the extension could hold at least 60 people, which had not been disputed by the appellant. The inspector noted that a fundamental part of the proposed worship use included very late evening and very early morning prayer sessions. He considered it was likely that external noise and disturbance from people coming and going, talking, vehicles entering the forecourt, the closing of car doors and people congregating outside the building would be detrimental to nearby occupiers, issues omitted from the appellants’ noise assessment which focused on noise issues emanating from within the building. He further considered that the internal configuration of the existing flats, with bedrooms facing the forecourt, would make occupiers particularly vulnerable to noise and disturbance from the main entrance, especially late at night when the Saturday prayer meetings were scheduled. Notably the appellant had rejected the use of restrictive conditions regarding hours of use, sound controls and numbers of people using the facility. The inspector concluded the extent of the conditions required would be too restrictive and unreasonable, indicating the basic unsuitability of the site.

An award of costs against the council was refused, the inspector considering that the fact that the review panel came to a different decision to their officers was acceptable and the reasons for refusal well-justified and based on objective analysis.

Inspector: Jonathon Tudor; Written representations

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