Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council and Lancashire County Cricket Club have defeated a developer’s appeal against the refusal of planning permission for a residential development which the club feared would lead to noise objections from future residents limiting concerts at the ground.
Killian Garvey, a planning barrister at Kings Chambers who acted for the club (a rule 6 party), said: “The club, who host music concerts and obviously cricket matches, were concerned that the introduction of 332 apartments so close to their grounds could curtail their ability to continue their operations. Thus, they presented a case on noise.
“Having seen the club's case, the council agreed that noise was a concern and added to their putative reasons for refusal to also argue noise.”
Mr Garvey said the appeal by developer Accrue (Forum) was ultimately dismissed on a number of issues, including character, appearance and viability.
He said two noise surveys from a concert by rock band Courteeners were provided to the inquiry, one by the club and one by the developer and a key component of the case was their accuracy.
“The inspector accepted there were a number of flaws with the appellant's survey, including that the positions where the surveys were taken meant that those conducting the survey were unaware when the live act took an interval during their concert,” Mr Garvey said.
The inspector had also had regard for the agent of change principle in national policy, which protects the source of noise from a new development.
In his appeal decision, inspector Andrew McGlone said the proposal would bring a vacant derelict site back into use and the principle of developing the site accorded with the development plan and would deliver a quantity and mix of houses in the context of the current housing land supply position.
“The proposal in all these regards responds to national and local policy,” he said. “The proposal would also make a sizeable affordable housing contribution and help address the clear need in Trafford. These matters all carry considerable weight.”
But Mr McGlone also found the proposal would not deliver a high-quality, well-designed building and place.
He said: “Substantial harm would be caused to local character and appearance in this regard, and there would be consequential effects for existing and future occupants’ living conditions in terms of the amenity spaces and overbearing outlook owing to the design.”
Despite mitigation proposed to address concert noise from the cricket ground, “I have concluded that there would be direct harm arising to future occupant’s private amenity spaces”.
Mr McGlone said: “The appellant’s survey does not analyse the 32 Hz octave band which covers the very low ‘sub-bass’ thump of most modern music. I have no reason to disagree with [the cricket club] that without this analysis there would be an underestimation of the potential impact.”
Future occupants could not reasonably be expected to keep doors and windows shut during concerts, so "there would be a material risk of complaints, statutory nuisance or an unfavourable review of the premises licence conditions.
“Hence, there is the potential risk of serious and direct financial consequences for [Lancashire] if concerts are curtailed. This is a matter of substantial weight,” the inspector said.
He added he attached very substantial weight to the appeal scheme’s conflict with the development plan when taken as a whole.