Planning inquiry hears evidence on motorway noise

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MOTORWAY noise will be no louder for occupants of proposed new houses than it is for those in existing homes, a planning inquiry has heard.

Crayfern Homes has appealed against Havant Borough Council’s decision to turn down plans to build 92 properties in a field next to the A3M, in Bedhampton.

Although planning officers at the council recommended the proposal be given the go- ahead, the planning committee refused on the grounds that living near the motorway would not give residents a decent quality of life.

Yesterday a three-day inquiry began at Havant’s Public Service Plaza, led by government planning inspector Colin Ball.

It will hear from highway and noise experts as well as residents opposed to the development.

Paul Stinchcombe QC, appearing on behalf of Crayfern, said at the packed inquiry: ‘If it is considered acceptable for the existing houses (in Hillmead Gardens) it must be acceptable for the new development. The new dwellings will have better facades, ventilation and sound insulation.

‘Since the proposed development can only result in an improvement on what is already acceptable members of the planning committee should never have refused it.’

Mr Stinchcombe put to the council’s noise expert Reuben Peckham there had been ‘no appreciable change’ in noise levels at the site after the opening of the Hindhead Tunnel led to more traffic.

Mr Reuben said: ‘That was the conclusion made but it is not something I necessarily agree with.’

He said he believed the level of noise from the motorway could affect the wellbeing of potential residents if the appeal was upheld.

Most of the site falls under category B exposure where A is the lowest and D is the highest.

Under category B and C development can go ahead but only with strict conditions to reduce noise levels.

It is accepted some of the site falls under category C and Mr Peckham believes it is more of the site than in the official report by Crayfern and includes back gardens, open space and a children’s playground. He said it would be difficult to limit noise in those areas. But he admitted the difference between category B and C would be imperceptible to the public.

The inquiry continues until Thursday. A decision will not be made for several weeks.