The council had refused the prior approval because of noise concerns for future occupiers of the office conversion as the appeal property made up part of a linear row of commercial units that comprised part of a wider complex of such units and because a noise assessment of the proposal concluded ventilation measures would be required to allow for closed windows.
The inspector noted that the noise assessment indicated that levels of external environmental noise (during both daytime and night-time hours), whilst not excessive, were high enough to warrant the use of normally closed windows to achieve guideline background noise levels for habitable rooms in the proposal. He accepted a ventilation system or systems would therefore be required to mitigate the impacts of noise. In this regard, however, the inspector did not consider that the need for mitigation in a noise context rendered the site unsuitable for residential use. This was because he found the appeal building’s location not to be excessively noisy as many of the adjoining commercial uses were used for office purposes and the site was quiet on his site visit – notwithstanding the impacts of the pandemic. He concluded a simple and easily achievable scheme of mitigation could be envisaged and, notwithstanding the intended provision of ventilation measures, the choice to periodically open windows could be a realistic option for future occupiers. The inspector concluded that the impacts of noise from commercial premises on the intended occupiers of the development would not make the appeal property unsuitable for residential use.
Inspector: Andrew Smith; Written representations