High Court Gives Guidance on Approach to Noise

Following an Inspector’s decision upholding a LPA’s decision to refuse planning permission for a surface level car park for use by residents of a recently constructed block of flats, the appellant appealed to the High Court on the grounds that the Inspector misinterpreted or misapplied the Secretary of State’s policy and guidance on the approach to potential noise in the exercise of development control.

By way of background, as part of the application process expert noise evidence had been submitted by the appellant and, following the production of a technical note addressing concerns raised by the EHO, had reached agreement with the Council’s EHO team that the level of noise general by cars entering and leaving the car park would not cause a significant noise disturbance.  However, Members refused permission contrary to their officer’s recommendation.  Upon appeal by written representations, the council offered no expert noise evidence but argued that the cars would be cause disturbance because of the low frequency of use. 

In rejecting the challenge Mr John Howell QC sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge held:

In my judgment it is thus clear that the Inspector assessed for himself what the potential effect of the noise from the vehicular movements generated by the proposed development on the occupiers of the two properties would be in the absence of acoustic protection, finding that it would be disturbing, and that he rejected the applicant’s contention that the impact would merely exceed the “lowest observed adverse effect level” and would not exceed the “significant observed adverse noise level”. In my judgment it is clear that the Inspector addressed the Secretary of State’s policy and found that, in the absence of acoustic protection, the noise generated would exceed the “significant observed adverse effect noise level.


In my judgment the Inspector was under no obligation to refer to the views of the Council’s Environmental Health Officers or to express any view about the withdrawal of their objection in the light of the Technical Note.