DON'T MISS THE PLANNING COMMITTEE MEETING
ON THURSDAY 20th SEPTEMBER!

It's really important that we have a strong presence at the NHDC Planning Committee meeting this Thursday (20th Sept).

WHY?

It looks like the Council is going to APPROVE the application. Here is its VERY ONE SIDED REPORT. See particularly points 6.0 and 6.1 where some conditions are proposed but nowhere near stringent enough.

We have appointed our planning consultant to speak on our behalf but it's vital that we are present in good numbers to show the committee how strongly we protest.


The meeting starts at 7.30pm (but please arrive as early as possible).
It's at the Council Offices, Gernon Road, Letchworth SG6 3JF


Here is a link to a map.


26 July - Pegasus Response to Environmental Health Report

Pegasus response to EHO 26 July 2018 (pdf)

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11 july

From SAG Planner's Environmental Health Report


Everything’s been quiet up to now over the summer, but you may have spotted that the Council’s Environment Health Officer (EHO) has now submitted its report on “noise and other nuisances” and this has been put on the planning website. For ease of reference, copy below.


The report is not very welcoming, if not unexpected, and it is disappointing that it accepts that there are shortcomings in the applicants’ noise surveys, but then goes to deem them fully acceptable in reaching its conclusions.

In summary, EHO has no objections to the application, but then seeks to have certain conditions imposed in order to “protect the amenities of existing residents” none of which appear, in our view, to offer Sandon much in the way of protection!


Our planning consultant is writing to NHDC to pick up on these points, but as this is a new consultee report posted on the planning portal, it is open for anyone to write in to Melissa again and make your comments.  It is easy for the planners to simply accept the EHO report. It is more difficult for them to rubber stamp this if they have another wave of adverse comments from Sandon villagers.


NHDC Environmental Health (Noise And Other Nuisances) 

Consultation Date: Wed 11 Jul 2018 


Thank you for your recent consultation regarding the above application. I have visited the application site and reviewed the Housing and Public Protection Service's records pertinent to this proposed development and I would like to make the following comments:


Areas of concern


Noise

I would consider that the following noise sources associated with this application for a change of use to an events venue could adversely impact on the amenity of nearby residents:


o Noise from the general operation of the venue i.e. service yard activities, deliveries/collections.
o Noise from fixed plant i.e. kitchen extract ventilation system and air handling units.
o Noise from events i.e. live/recorded music, PA system noise, people noise, vehicle noise from cars arriving and leaving and travelling through Sandon village.


I have reviewed the noise assessment report by SLR dated February 2018 which covers the above noise sources as part of the noise assessment. I have also reviewed the Noise Assessment Technical Review produced by REC Ltd dated 30th April 2018 which was commissioned by Pegasus Group on behalf of the Sandon Action Group and the subsequent memorandum by SLR dated 29th May 2018 addressing the criticisms identified in their original report by a number of representations.


Prior to covering each aspect of noise in reference to the noise reports, it is important to first provide some comments on the robustness and reliability of the original noise assessment by SLR. I would not normally provide such comments but I feel it is important to address the competing arguments from both SLR and REC Ltd (and other representations) and to outline what is acceptable from the point of view of Environmental Health.


o Time of year of the noise assessment- it was undertaken in winter and it has been suggested that it should have been undertaken in spring/summer which is more representative of when the events venue will be used. I would not request a seasonal noise assessment for the purposes of a planning application but would require that it is undertaken during suitable weather conditions. To this end, the time of year of the noise assessment has not been deemed relevant.
o Weather affected data- despite there being a number of days where noise data had to be disregarded; overall I consider that the amount of data collected that can be used as part of the noise assessment is acceptable. I would not normally require 13 days worth of background noise data for this type of application in any case but it may have been necessary given the adverse weather conditions. REC Ltd mentions the need for a temporary weather station but I consider that it is acceptable to rely on the local weather data that is available.
o Lack of Sunday noise data- I think it is important that background noise data is available for a Sunday given that the application is for an events venue which will typically be in use at weekends. I note that the only Sunday noise data available is from Sunday 21st January 2018 at monitoring location 1 only and that a fair portion of the noise data from this day was omitted due to adverse weather conditions. Whilst this is not ideal, there is still some data that can be relied upon and I accept the point from SLR that the background noise level was not the lowest measured so I am not concerned that there is no Sunday noise data from monitoring location 2. It is my view that it would be unfair to ask for a subsequent noise assessment to be undertaken for a Sunday.
o Background noise data from the Sandon Fields Festival Noise Management Plan- REC Ltd have referenced this in their technical review and I feel it should be disregarded. The noise monitoring location was approx 1km away from the application site and so there is no way that it can be assumed that the background noise levels would be similar. I am surprised that REC Ltd would rely on noise data that they haven't collected first hand.
o Background noise has only been estimated and not measured at sensitive receptors- I am satisfied that the monitoring locations (1 and 2) are representative of all the identified noise sensitive receptors. I agree that this is common practice and is seen in many acoustic reports.


The remaining issues with the original SLR noise assessment as identified by REC Ltd and other representations concern the potential noise sources from the events venue and will be discussed in turn. The above comments were intended to address the acceptability of the way in which the noise data was collected which I consider is sufficiently robust and can be relied upon. I do not propose asking the applicant to commission another noise assessment.


Noise from general operation of the venue i.e. service yard activities, deliveries/collections.

This noise source can be adequately controlled by imposing a condition restricting the hours in which deliveries and waste collections can take place at the application site. I have included a suitable recommendation below. Any activity from staff at the venue can be controlled by limiting the operating hours. Again, I have included a suitable recommendation below for hours of use of the events venue.


Noise from fixed plant i.e. kitchen extract ventilation system and air handling units.

Section 5 of the SLR noise report covers a BS4142:2014 noise assessment for proposed fixed plant which is to serve the events venue (i.e. kitchen extract ventilation system and air handling units). The predictions demonstrate compliance with the aforementioned standard that will result in a low noise impact but the report does state that the plant specification has not been finalised. If larger plant is installed it could give rise to higher noise levels as a result and so a planning condition will be required to ensure that any proposed plant (once this is finalised) is noise assessed prior to installation (see recommendation below). If the plant to be installed is as per the SLR noise report then re-submission of this in support of discharging the condition is acceptable. However, if larger plant or indeed more units are to be installed then a separate BS4142:2014 noise assessment will be required. I am happy for this assessment to rely on the background noise data already gathered.


Live/recorded music and PA system noise

I do not have concerns over background music being played in the ceremony barn (grain store) as it is unlikely to be audible outside of this building.


My main concern with music noise is that which is played within the reception barn (black barn). The SLR noise report and the plans detail a purpose built acoustic enclosure which also included an acoustic lobby. It is my opinion that this enclosure will be sufficient to ensure that nearby residents are not adversely affected by music noise from events held in this barn. I also note that the applicants are intending to add over-cladding to this barn which will also reduce noise outbreak from it. I would not necessarily require the latter to be included unless it is to serve other purposes i.e. visual improvements. Changes to the Licensing Act 2003 a few years ago allows premises of this type to have live and recorded music until 2300hrs without a licence (and therefore no noise related conditions are possible i.e. a noise limiter) so I feel it is necessary for this acoustic feature to be implemented as it is in line with the intended use of the application site. I have included a suitable recommendation below.


There has been little mention of music noise originating from the external areas of the events venue i.e. Bury Garden or the courtyard other than being highlighted by REC Ltd. In light of the above comment about live and recorded music until 2300hrs which also applies outdoors, I would like to recommend a condition restricting this activity as part of any planning consent given if this is considered appropriate and enforceable by planning. I only consider it necessary to restrict amplified live and recorded music as this would have the most significant impact. Any acoustic music i.e. violinists who wish to play for an outside ceremony or similar would still be able to take place and I do not feel there would be a significant adverse impact from this. Post 2300hrs, live and recorded music taking place inside and outside can be controlled at the licence application stage as can the requirement to have windows and doors closed except for ingress, egress or in the case of an emergency.


People noise 

The impact of people noise is difficult to predict but I note that the SLR noise report has included a prediction for several areas of the events venue. REC Ltd have outlined concerns over this noise source being underestimated. As much of the events venue will be licensed under the Licensing Act 2003, Environmental Health will be able to impose conditions restricting the timings for where guests are permitted so I feel that this issue should be dealt with at the licence application stage. In any case, a condition restricting the hours of use will also assist with this noise source.


Noise from cars entering and leaving the site and driving through Sandon

I am satisfied with the noise predictions for traffic movements on and off the application site and through Sandon. Whilst this may bring about more traffic noise incidences, I do not feel that it will lead to significant adverse impacts or noise levels outside of relevant guidelines. In any case, I do not feel that this would be a sufficient reason to refuse planning permission. The aforementioned restriction of the hours of use will limit the times at night where cars will be leaving the events venue and I have also recommended a restriction on the number of events that should take place per calendar year. The latter is in line with what the applicant has requested and it will limit the impact of all the noise sources from the events venue, not just vehicle movement noise.


In summary, I do not have any objections to this application but ask that the below recommendations are included on any planning consent given in order to protect the amenities of nearby existing residents.


Odour

The only concern I have identified relating to odour is from the proposed kitchen extract ventilation system which is to serve the kitchen situated centrally within the application site. I am satisfied this is located a sufficient distance from any nearby residents so that any cooking odours will go to atmosphere before they reach said residents, even in windy conditions or during a temperature inversion. To this end, I do not consider there is a need for the planning condition requiring the approval of this system as standard filtration should be sufficient. The type of cuisine that is likely to be cooked at this venue would also not be considered high risk from an odour nuisance perspective.


Light

Any new lighting installations at the application site have the potential to impact adversely upon nearby residents and cause light intrusion into windows, especially those at receptor location 5 (as detailed in the noise report). I therefore recommend that conditions are attached to any planning consent given to ensure that said lighting installations are approved by the LPA prior to them being installed and that they meet certain lighting limits as per the ILE guidance notes for the reduction of obtrusive light. Please see my recommendations below.


RECOMMENDATIONS:


1 Prior to the first use of the events venue, the noise mitigation measures detailed in the SLR report reference 418.07763.00001.002 version 5 dated February 2018 (Sandon Bury Farm Noise Assessment), including a purpose built acoustic enclosure, shall be fully implemented. Once implemented, the scheme of measures shall be maintained in accordance with the details in perpetuity.
Reason: to protect the amenities of existing residents.


2 Prior to the installation of any fixed plant, a noise survey following the guidelines set out by BS4142:2014 shall be undertaken. This survey shall take into account all proposed fixed plant as part of the development and shall include noise control measures which should be submitted for written approval by the Local Planning Authority (LPA). No fixed plant shall be installed and operated at the site until the noise survey has been approved by the LPA. Noise mitigation measures shall be such as to achieve 5dB below existing background noise levels.
Reason: to protect the amenities of existing residents.


3 [Discuss hours with applicant before imposing these suggested hours of use] Goods vehicle deliveries and refuse vehicles shall only be permitted between 08.00hrs and 20.00hrs Monday to Friday, 08.00hrs and 18.00hrs Saturdays and no deliveries on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Reason: to protect the amenities of existing residents.


4 [Discuss hours with applicant before imposing these suggested hours of use] Hours of use of the events venue shall only be permitted between 08.00hrs and 23.00hrs Sunday to Thursday and 08.00hrs to 00.00hrs Friday, Saturday and any day preceding a Bank Holiday.
Reason: to protect the amenities of existing residents.


5 A maximum of seventy-five (75) events shall take place per calendar year with no more than three (3) events taking place per calendar week.
Reason: to protect the amenities of existing residents.


6 Amplified live and recorded music shall not be permitted to take place in the outside areas of the venue at any time.
Reason: to protect the amenities of existing residents.


7 A detailed lighting scheme shall be undertaken and submitted to the Local Planning Authority for approval with details of all external lighting, including lighting required for the pedestrian walkways, parking areas and security lighting and there shall be no external illumination erected, installed or operated on any part of the site other than in accordance with these approved details.
Reason: to protect the amenities of existing residents.


8 The following limits shall not be exceeded by the exterior light installations:

Sky Glow ULR (Max%) 2.5

Max light into windows Ev (lux)
07.00- 23.00hrs 5
23.00- 07.00hrs 1

Source Intensity l (kcd)
07.00- 23.00hrs 7.5
23.00- 07.00hs 0.5

Building Luminance 07.00- 23.00hrs
Average, L (cd/m²) 10

Reason: to protect the amenities of existing residents.


Informatives

During the demolition and change of use phases the guidance in BS5228-1:2009 (Code of Practice for noise Control on construction and open sites) should be adhered to.


During the demolition and change of use phases no activities should take place outside the following hours: Monday to Friday 08:00-18:00hrs; Saturdays 08:00-13:00hrs and Sundays and Bank Holidays: no work at any time.


Prior to the commencement of demolition of the existing buildings, a survey should be undertaken in order to identify the presence of asbestos containing materials. Any asbestos containing materials should be handled and disposed of appropriately. Where necessary this should include the use of licensed contractors and waste disposal sites licensed to receive asbestos.


If you should consider that the above conditions would be inappropriate for this application, or that its wording should be altered, please contact me to discuss your concerns.

MAY - PEGASUS (ON BEHALF OF SAG) REPORT TO NHDC PLANNING

PEGASUS Objection Report May 2018 (pdf)

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april 7th 2018

SAG's RESPONSE TO REVISED APPLICATION

Rural Solutions has submitted a new planning application for Sandon Bury Farm. A number of changes are proposed, but a substantial element of the original application still remains, against which the majority of the village objected first time around. Set out below is a summary of the key changes and the main issues that will still affect Sandon and the surrounding area.


SAG’s considered view is that this is still a completely inappropriate location for such a use. Whatever the planning benefits might be in finding a suitable alternative use for a listed building structure, these are far outweighed by the damage to the village and local environment in terms of noise, public nuisance, traffic, health & safety.  

 

This update sets out:


1.            The key changes made to the application.

2.            SAG's comments/views of the changes.

3.            How to respond to NHDC.


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1. KEY CHANGES:


* Access: all vehicle access – for guests, staff, coaches, taxis, service & delivery lorries and vans will now use the existing main farm entrance off Rushden Road, by the village green.

* An Events Venue: it is not just a wedding venue, it will now host other types of parties – birthdays, anniversaries, corporate events.

* Events halved to 75 per year: But they propose each event could run for 48 hours with pre and post event parties and, in the case of weddings, it is likely that events will be packed into the summer months when villagers are enjoying their gardens, walking, riding, cycling. Also, subsequently securing approval for an increase back to 150 events once the venue is in existence will be easier.

* Black Barn new acoustic enclosure: The new dance room is now proposed to be in the Black Barn, but there are no details provided on design, layout, means of access etc, so it’s impossible to tell how effective the acoustic treatment will be and the previous issues of guests going in and out and keeping doors open for extra ventilation still remain.

* Reduction in capacity to 150: The original application focussed on the majority of events hosting 100-150 guests, so there is really no difference here. With the reduction in the number of events, it is likely that they will target the higher numbers in order to drive their revenues. The statements also emphasise that numbers are not prescriptive, giving them ample wriggle room to go for higher numbers once permission is secured.

* Bat lofts: One is directly above the new dance floor ‘box’. Vibration and low-frequency noise will disturb bats?

* Spa & Studio: No mention of what this is, nor specific details of use or internal planning of space shown.

* Grain Store: This will still be a new structure but has changed to a wedding ceremony hall and the bar has disappeared. This room opens on to the upper courtyard, but will not have the same sound insulation treatment as detailed in the previous application.

* Lower courtyard: Contains staff parking and is the service delivery area. It is also the dropping off point and pick up for coaches, but coaches will have to do a three-point turn in a restricted space. More than one coach or even a second mini-bus would be a problem.

* Guest Parking: Has now been moved to the existing farmyard which is still proposed to be a working farmyard, with access off the main farm entrance . There is an obvious clash with the working farm and there appears to be little by way of explanation as to how the two seemingly incompatible uses can operate together. Cars are parked across the barn doors, and there surely isn’t enough space to safely manoeuvre farm machinery without hitting cars. Also, the clash of farm machinery and members of the public is a serious safety issue. Weddings at 75 per year and 48 hrs each are certain to clash with harvest time.

The new car park still encroaches on land outside village boundary.

* Village amenity: All previous references to use of the Black Barn as a village social centre, meeting place, bar, local shop etc have disappeared. There is no benefit offered to the village.

 

2. SAG RESPONSE TO THESE CHANGES


SAG objections to the proposals will carry more weight with the planners if they come from Sandon residents and they address valid planning considerations – such as:

* Adverse environmental impact

* Loss of amenity

* Public nuisance

* Unsustainable use

* Noise

* Pollution

* Highways/traffic

* Health & safety


SAG has therefore identified the following grounds for continued objection:


1. HIGHWAYS/TRAFFIC.


* Unsuitable single-track lanes between the village and the A10 & A505, with numerous potholes, eroded edges and limited passing places. The Transport Statement only refers to the stretches of Rushden Rd immediately adjacent to the farm entrance. There is no mention of any of the other access roads or the state of the lanes beyond the immediate locality of Sandon Bury.

* All traffic will now come into the village, using all the access routes, to converge on the single existing farm entrance. The Transport Statement acknowledges that “a number of potential routes” exist and the choice in route selection “only serves to dilute the traffic impact”, so they are effectively encouraging traffic to flow through all parts of the village in order to support their statistics.

* Even if traffic movements are reduced, there is a substantial increase in weekend traffic numbers (as evidenced from their own traffic survey), at precisely the time that residents will be hoping for peace and quiet – and at unsociable hours.

* There is no acknowledgement by Rural Solutions of the adverse environmental and noise impact (and headlights) of late night traffic leaving the village during the week and at weekends.

* If guests are booking into local hotels and B&Bs, as suggested by Rural Solutions, then it is likely that a significant number of taxi trips (and B&B owners offering a ferrying service – as happens around the South Farm venue) will be generated.

* Despite the claims in the management plan, there is the strong likelihood of taxis, coaches and mini buses parking by the village green, as there is little provision shown for these vehicles in the submitted plans, with engines running, waiting for guests to spill out after midnight.  

 

2.  NOISE.


* The SLR noise report is based on tests were carried out in winter conditions, (between 18 Jan & 1 Feb) far removed from the quieter summer months when the majority of events are likely to be inflicted on the village.

* Little consideration is given to the impact of noise from garden parties in the Bury on the adjoining church, village green or neighbouring properties.

* No consideration is given to likely noise from the pre and post wedding parties, which quite often attract high numbers of guests, nor to noise from private parties in the Bury itself.

* A new acoustic “dance/music box” is proposed inside the Black Barn, but there are few details on design or acoustic performance, so it will be impossible for NHDC to reach a view on whether this is acceptable or not.

* One of the new bat roosts is positioned directly above the acoustic box.

* The issue of low frequency noise still remains.

* Events that finish at midnight – if they finish on time – invariably mean that traffic will disperse through the village a good deal later.

 

3. VILLAGE BOUNDARY.

 

       The layout of the new car park is outside the line of the village boundary, which immediately conflicts with planning policy.

 

4. CAR PARK CLASH WITH FARM

 

* There appears to be an incompatible mix of running a working farm with parking guest cars in the farmyard. The SLR report states that “whilst the farm yard will not be in operation during event days, the design does not compromise access for farm vehicles”. But it is quite clear from the plans that the two can’t sit side by side and we can’t see how the working side of the farm is effectively shut down during event days, with car spaces marked across the entrance to both barns and blocking the through route to the fields beyond. What happens at harvest with the constant traffic from the grain tractors, in turn followed by the large grain lorries? Farming is more weather-dependent rather than fitting into an events schedule?   


5. GUEST NUMBERS AND ACCESS TO VILLAGE.


The reports prepared by the applicants are based on average event numbers of 100 guest. This understates potential vehicle movements and noise calculations by about 30%, casting doubt on the credibility of the findings, given that the Barn is sized to hold 150 seated for dining.

* There is now the substantial likelihood of guests spilling out into the village, despite the claims in the management plan, and the potential for public nuisance. The hosts will have paid out a substantial sum to book the event and will feel that they “own” the place.

 

6. BENEFIT TO THE VILLAGE

 

* In simple terms, there is none. All previous offers of setting up a social centre where villagers can meet and use the bar, pick up shopping etc have been withdrawn.

* The claim by Rural Solutions that the social benefits are an “increasing number of visitors to the village to support local facilities and services and supporting community activities” is just wrong. There are no local facilities that guests attending a wedding or birthday party would use, they are simply coming to Sandon Bury to have a party – at our expense in terms of noise and traffic aggravation. 

* The Transport Statement suggests that “realignment of vegetation” will deal with the blind corner by the village green triangle. They intend to root out the existing mature hedge running from Old Sextons to the farm entrance. This will improve sight lines but it will probably encourage the growing numbers of through traffic who already use this route as a rat run between the A10 and A505, to drive even faster round the bend.

 

7. LOCAL EMPLOYMENT


* 3 full time and 3 part time staff are proposed, there are already 2 full time staff on site, so the net gain is 1, even if this is sourced from the village. The majority of staff will be employed by the catering companies and they tend to bring their own contract staff in.

* For weddings and birthday parties, most hosts tend to want to choose their own hairdressers, makeup artists, florists etc from their own area where they live and not locally.

  

8. GENERAL POINTS TO REBUT


* The Black Barn is not in danger of falling into disrepair. It was recently refurbished with the help of public funds.

* The Bury is perfectly capable of being used as a private residence – it is just that none of the family wish to live there.

* None of the applicants or the FW family will be living in Sandon to experience what they are proposing to inflict on the village. 

* The management plan implies that there will be stewards at every turn, controlling access to the gardens, to the acoustic box, to smokers in the courtyard, to the car park, service areas and on Rushden Road to ensure no event traffic extends beyond the site boundary – is this realistic and achievable, given that “those who have paid to party” will just do as they please? Partygoers are in Sandon for one night only and they won’t really care what their impact on the village is.

* Rural Solutions imply that local residents have been regularly consulted and that they have “respected the views of the local community” – certainly not the majority views! To our knowledge, there has been no widespread consultation prior to this application and the majority of objections listed last year have not been taken on board  - otherwise we wouldn’t be going through this now! 

* Rural Solutions emphasise that numbers of events, guest numbers and timing/operating hours of events should not be taken as prescriptive and are “presented indicatively”. This gives them plenty of scope to ramp up numbers and extend operating hours in the future.

 

One of Rural Solutions’ planning arguments states that the planning framework “supports proposals where there is an identified need not met by existing facilities in rural service centres."


Sandon isn’t a rural service centre, and there are plenty of wedding venues within 5 miles. There is no identified need.


Any perceived benefits in providing limited local employment opportunities are massively outweighed by the adverse impacts of traffic, noise, nuisance and environmental harm.

 

3. NEXT STEPS – RESPOND TO NHDC BY 18TH April

As this is a new application, you will need to write again to the planning officer at NHDC, setting out all your concerns and objections. Last year’s letters have no effect. You can make reference to the previous application if you wish, but you should spell out all your comments and objections in full.

We would urge you to write to/email Melissa Tyler again by the deadline of 18th April. She was quite clear last year that the weight of local public interest was a material factor when she came to make her report and rest assured that the Faure Walkers are doing everything they can to secure support for the application. With your help again, we can defeat this application.




RURAL ROUTES INTO SANDON

Totally unsuitable , winding lanes with blind corners...and so close to a JMI school.

SAG objection Appendix A - Rural Routes to Sandon (pdf)

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