Railway noise mitigation scuppers residential development

The replacement of former station coal yard buildings with two flats next to a railway and level crossing in a Surrey town was rejected by an inspector over noise concerns.

Since refusing permission for the appeal scheme the council had granted consent for a very similar scheme. The inspector found the extant planning permission a material consideration, meaning that the council’s concerns with respect to effect on the character and appearance of the area could not be sustained. However, he considered on the other main issue of the effect on living conditions of noise that while mitigation measures could be provided in the form of acoustic glazing and mechanical ventilation, the resulting internal living environment would be poor and create unacceptable living conditions, outweighing the benefit of additional housing even in the context of a shortfall in supply. He concluded that national planning practice guidance on noise did not support the development and it could not be made acceptable through planning conditions. He dismissed the appeal.

In a separate decision on a costs application, the inspector considered the council had conflated a concern about the adequacy of outdoor amenity space and living conditions for the development’s occupiers with an effect on the character and appearance of the area, alleging a cramped appearance. Given that planning permission had been granted for a building that would essentially have the same effect on area character and appearance as the appeal development, he decided the council’s reason for refusal was ill-conceived and amounted to unreasonable behaviour for the purposes of paragraph 049 of national PPG and made a partial award of costs.

Inspector: Grahame Gould; Written representations

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