No genuine need for noise-attenuation bund

The creation of acoustic bunds to mitigate for road noise at a listed farmhouse in open countryside in west Sussex was refused for heritage and ecological harm, conflict with the council's inert waste deposit policy and harm to the appearance and character of the area and the living conditions of nearby occupiers.

The proposal comprised an acoustic bund measuring approximately 750 metres in length across a continuous distance of 820 metres. The bund would be 5 metres high. It was proposed to reduce road noise from a trunk road for the occupants of a listed farmhouse and its associated land. Of the many issues in the case, compliance with the council’s waste policies was an important factor. The council had a specific policy which required the deposition of inert waste to meet several criteria – none of which, the council argued, would be met by the proposal. The first required there to be clear benefits to the site and wider area. But having assessed the appellant’s noise survey, the inspector considered there was no genuine need for noise reduction measures at the site since noise levels at the property were below World Health Organisation maximum levels. He also considered the bunds would be large engineered structures within the open countryside alien to its existing largely flat, agricultural landscape character which again conflicted with the waste policy’s criteria. In addition, as these flat fields formed the setting of the listed farmhouse, he found there would be less than substantial harm to that building’s setting. On the basis there was no genuine need for the bunds, he held there were no public benefits to outweigh that heritage harm. In addition, the inspector considered, that as the easterly bund proposed would be only two metres from the boundary of two nearby cottages, it would result in an oppressive and overbearing feature for the occupiers of those cottages compounded by the fact it would have no screening effect from the road’s traffic noise which, he noted, was worse here than at the farmhouse it was intended for.

An award of costs against the council was refused, the inspector considering the council had not acted unreasonably for not explaining in its pre-application advice that any future application would need to be submitted to the county council as a waste matter rather than the district council.

Inspector: Nick Fagan; Written representations

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