Living wall acoustic barriers would appear incongruous

43 static holiday units have been refused at an airfield in north Yorkshire for harm to the appearance and character of the area from the 9.5-metre-high acoustic barriers needed to prevent noise disturbance to future occupiers of the units from an adjoining potato shed.

The adopted local plan supported new chalet self-catering accommodation in the countryside where there was no unacceptable visual intrusion or impact on the character of the locality. The inspector noted the appeal site formed part of a largely open and flat arable landscape with sporadic areas of trees forming woodland blocks and shelter belts.

The inspector found no harm to character arising from the single storey chalets themselves but was concerned about the need for up to 9.5-metre-high acoustic barriers to protect future occupiers of the chalets from seasonal noise and disturbance emanating from a potato shed on adjoining land to the appeal site. The barriers would be interspersed into some of the woodland blocks at the appeal site.

Whilst the inspector agreed with the noise assessment submitted that the acoustic barriers were required, they expressed concern at their visual impact on the appearance and character of the area because of their significant height and scale, taller than the potato shed itself, and because of the potential for loss of existing important screening trees through their construction. This latter aspect, the inspector opined, was not clearly explained in the arboricultural assessment even though it appeared that the 9.5 and 7.5-metre-high barriers would be located directly within the centre of each tree belt and therefore raised doubts about how well-screened each barrier would be if existing trees were lost. The inspector was also concerned at the make-up of the barriers which were to be of cage-like structures containing considerable soil and plants to achieve a natural appearance of a living wall. The inspector held that without dense and established planting the bunds would have a stark appearance uncharacteristic of their surroundings and even once planting was established the height of the barriers would represent an incongruous feature inconsistent with the landscape character of the area. 

Inspector: S Hunt; Written representations

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