In a recent Secretary of State decision, an appeal made by Croudace Strategic against Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council was allowed, with full costs also awarded to Croudace.
The decision relates to a site at Razor’s Farm in Chineham, which has been included as a residential allocation in the emerging Basingtoke and Deane Local Plan. The application was for outline planning permission for up to 425 new homes.
Cole Jarman undertook noise surveys and assessments on behalf of Croudace, in consultation with the Council’s Environmental Health Officer, with the aim of providing a suitable acoustic environment for future residents, whilst also maximising developable area where possible. The Council failed to determine the application within statutory timescales but then issued deemed reasons for refusal had the decision been made. The Council Members’ approach of stating that had the application been determined it would have been refused did not accord with advice received from the Council’s own officers. Croudace appealed and the case was recovered by the Secretary of State. Croudace later made an application for the award of full costs on the grounds that the Council had acted unreasonably.
Noise from an adjacent industrial gas facility was a key factor in the appeal and in the consideration of costs. The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector’s view that noise could have been dealt with by planning condition; the principle of this had already been agreed upon by Cole Jarman and the Council’s Environmental Health Officer. The Secretary of State also agreed with the view that the outline application accords with the aim to provide high quality design and a good standard of amenity. Where the costs application was concerned he agreed with the Inspector’s judgement that the Council behaved unreasonably in failing to grant permission on several grounds including noise, when at the same time the site was being allocated for residential use in the emerging Local Plan in preparation by the Council. He also agreed with the view that had the council looked for solutions (rather than problems), for example by working to agree upon suitable planning conditions to control noise, it is possible that there would have been no need for the Public Inquiry.
Cole Jarman are delighted to have helped inform these important decisions by the Planning Inspectorate and the Department for Communities and Local Government through the provision of expert witness services in acoustics.