This week all residents at Hunts Grove should receive a letter and Q&A document from Crest Nicholson regarding an amendment (Section 73) planning application concerning Condition 10 of the Hunts Grove planning permission that defines interior and exterior noise limits for properties at Hunts Grove.
Samples of the documents are attached for your reference. It is the opinion of the HGRA and Parish Council Planning Group that this should not be a matter of concern for residents. Both the HGRA and Parish Council have been fully consulted in the surveying, options and analysis over the past months that has now led to this amendment application and I can assure you that we have robustly questioned the experts on behalf of present and future residents. Bear in mind that this impacts a very few properties closest to the motorway; it is a notification that all Hunts Grove will receive as we are under the same outline planning permission as a master development, not a notification that noise is going to increase at your property!
Can I Have My Say?
Absolutely. HGRA and Parish Council have already done a lot of work on this topic the last few months and you can find a summary of our current position below. Have a read of the letter and Q&A. If you have any concerns or comments that should be included in the planning consultation, please follow the consultation route below. If you have questions about the application for the developer, please follow the questions route below.
Please contact Lucie Brailsford at Seaxburh Partners (Tel: 01278 671 244 or Email: [email protected]).
A copy of the planning application will be available to view at Stroud District Council’s offices (Ebley Mill, Ebley Wharf, Stroud, GL5 4UB) during regular opening hours. It will also be available to view on the Council’s planning application website as soon as it has been registered (https://publicaccess.stroud.gov.uk/online-applications/). The application will be subject to a 21 day consultation period during which comments can be submitted to the Council.
In addition to registering your comment / response above, feel free to also submit to the Parish Council for attention of the Planning Group at [email protected] noting a reference of “Hunts Grove Section 73 Noise Variation”
Hunts Grove is a location that is blessed with fantastic (albeit busy!) road connections both for the Motorway and A-Road network. With the M5, A38 and also the railway, the site is surrounded by transport corridors that generate background noise. Pragmatically it is not feasible to isolate properties from these noise generators. Limits must be set following national planning guidance and mitigation measures taken to ensure compliance with internal and external limits.
Key Points Of Our Consultation
Many aspects to the noise topic have been discussed in the last few months with Crest Nicholson, and their appointed planning and noise consultants, in meetings such as the planning forums that bring together representatives of HGRA, Parish Council, District Council, County Council and developers.
For the layperson, noise is both a highly technical field and subjective at the same time. So, there are means of surveying and predicting noise levels, but noise really needs to be experienced to understand the impact. Also, what one person considers intrusive noise may be described by another as “background”.
In considering a potential increase in external noise limits, we wanted to satisfy that:
- There was no question of relaxing internal noise limits;
- This was not a cost-cutting exercise by developers to relax the necessary mitigation, for example the earth bund next to the motorway;
- This would not become a licence to build houses closer to the motorway;
- That residents comfort and amenity be protected in times of extreme hot weather, for example not be in the position of having to choose between noise / heat for adequate ventilation and airflow for sleeping rooms;
We also had some early consultation with buyers of new properties nearest the motorway. This was very useful as it demonstrated that there were concerns broader than just the noise limits. For example, unrestricted light and views to the Cotswold Hills were higher priority for some than road noise levels.
In better understanding the subjective experience of noise, we requested a site visit around Phase 2 of David Wilson Homes and Bellway Homes to understand the current noise levels and also the effect of the existing bund. Crest Nicholson kindly funded this site visit by having their noise consultant present to walk the site and answer questions. A couple of the fundamental things that came out of this visit are:
- The shielding effects of properties from the noise source, i.e. careful orientation of back gardens;
- The impact of the noise bund. Of course, any barrier is going to reduce the propagation of noise, however we were still under the impression that as we walked closer to the motorway, the noise levels would rise. Walking through the Bellway development for example, the road noise reduced the closer we got to the motorway. Maybe this seems obvious now, but it was counterintuitive on the day!
In the final modeling, noise maps were provided that predicted noise levels at a property by property level with the current layout configuration and a variety of options including bund height, fencing height on top of the bund, orientation of properties and different heights and types of garden boundary fences and walls.
HGRA / Parish Council Summary
In summary, (subject to a final review and consultation response of the Section 73 application by the Planning Group) our current position is that:
- The original noise limit for gardens set at 50 dB appears to have been too restrictive for a site such as Hunts Grove;
- Whilst we understand that exceedances beyond 55 dB have been necessary on a limited number of Phase 2 properties, we ask that planning officers secure by condition no further exceedances beyond 55 dB across the rest of the built and unbuilt site (point still under discussion within the Planning Group);
- Noise is a highly technical matter, therefore HGRA and the Parish Council defer and fully support the rigorous consultation that will be conducted by the Environmental Health department;
- On the non-technical matters, we are satisfied that the developers motives, mitigation options, impact on present and future residents have been fully explored;
- The matter of long-term maintenance impact should be explored. For example, preferable to utilise brick boundary walls as a noise barrier where possible instead of specialised acoustic fencing. Where acoustic fencing is specified or used, making it clear to residents what the expected lifetime of the fencing will be and replacement costs at today’s prices. In the case of site-wide measures such as the motorway acoustic bund and fencing, will this be transferred to the Management Company for long-term maintenance or other authority such as Highways England etc. In the case of the Management Company, what are the expected management tasks and costs.
The following documents will be posted to every property at Hunts Grove this week: