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High Court allows appeal of complainants over noise nuisance from multi use games area

The High Court has ruled on whether noise nuisance can arise from both the intended use of a sports area and from anti-social behaviour that takes place there.

Mr Justice Turner postponed making any remedy in a case brought against Chapel-en-le-Frith Parish Council to allow the parties to consider the implications of his findings.

The case was brought by residents Merren Jones, Stephen Covey-Crump and David Howe as an appeal against the decision of District Judge McGarva to dismiss their application for an abatement order for statutory noise nuisance.

All three live close to a multi-use games area and skate park and alleged noise from it amounted to a statutory nuisance from skateboards on metal ramps, ball strikes, shouting and loud music being played.

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DJ McGarva held there was a sharp legal distinction between noise generated from the area’s intended use and that from anti-social activities.

He also found the appellants had been rendered hypersensitive by the anti-social behaviour, without which they would not have been so adversely affected by the noise arising from the intended uses.

The district judge said the questions that should be dealt with at appeal were whether he was right to draw this distinction, and to find that it was anti-social behaviour and not the area’s normal use that disturbed the appellants.

In Jones & Ors v Chapel-En-Le-Frith Parish Council [2022] EWHC 1909 (QB)  Turner J said: “Consideration should have been given to the impact upon health of all noise emanating from the [ground] and the skate park regardless as to whether it fell to be as a result of intended use or anti-social behaviour.”

He said the distinction between normal and anti-social use was not one that falls to be made under the statutory regime.

“Since it was impermissible to distinguish between intended and anti-social noise, it was also impermissible to treat anti-social noise, in part, as a cause of hypersensitivity such as to negate a finding of nuisance,” Turner J said.

“In any event, the existence of hypersensitivity is not a defence where even a person of normal resilience would have found the noise to be unreasonable.”

Mark Smulian

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