Flats passed on noise but failed on affordability

Insufficient provision of affordable housing has led to dismissal of plans for 55 flats in a noisy part of Birmingham, although an inspector agreed that living conditions would be satisfactory for residents.

The parties agreed that noise from a road and a neighbouring restaurant and bar would require mitigation and this could be achieved by high-specification acoustic glazing coupled with mechanical ventilation. However, the council took the view that permanently closed windows would not provide a satisfactory residential environment. The inspector referred to controls on the commercial use via the licensing regime and restricted opening hours.

On the basis that road noise is generally more tolerable than noise from music and entertainment, she reasoned that residents would be able to open their windows while the restaurant and bar was closed. She concluded that occupiers would have acceptable living conditions and found no conflict with development plan policy requiring high standards of design that respond to site conditions.

Although the appellant’s appeal statement referred to payment of a sum agreed with the council towards off-site affordable housing secured via a section 106 agreement, no such legal agreement had been provided. Deciding that it would not be appropriate to use a planning condition instead to secure affordable provision, the inspector found the scheme in conflict with development plan affordable housing policy.

Inspector: Siobhan Watson; Written representations

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