Mechanical ventilation unacceptable in office-to-residential conversion

Prior approval under Class O of the GPDO for conversion of an office to residential use has been refused in a Greater Manchester settlement because the conversion relied on mechanical ventilation to avoid noise disturbance from nearby commercial uses. The inspector held this would lead to the provision of housing without a high standard of amenity for future occupiers, contrary to national planning policy.

The appeal site comprised a two-storey office building on a street predominantly in industrial and commercial use, with an electroplating plant and commercial car wash located directly opposite the site.

The inspector referred to paragraph 182 of the NPPF which sought to ensure new development can be effectively integrated with existing businesses without unreasonable restrictions placed on them and also that where the operation of an existing business would have a significant effect on new development nearby, the appellant should be required to provide suitable mitigation.

The appellant's acoustic report submitted with the proposal advised the introduction of mechanical ventilation and new double glazing to prevent the ingress of noise from the commercial uses opposite and passing traffic on the busy A class road adjacent. But the inspector determined that noise levels in the new residences could only be maintained at acceptable levels in terms of WHO advice if the windows remained closed at all times. He did not regard this as a satisfactory solution in achieving suitable living conditions for the future occupiers or compliant with paragraph 127 of the NPPF.

Inspector: Edwin Maund; Written representations

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