Franklin Park, Todds Green - Information for Residents
Following our review of comments made by local residents about the construction of an acoustic fence at Franklin Park, our Environmental Health team commissioned an independent noise consultant to carry out a noise impact assessment.
MAS noise consultants have completed a noise report, focussing any potential impacts emerging from the new noise barrier erected on the edge of Franklin Park adjacent to the A1(M).
In summary, the assessment by MAS indicates that the sound barrier results in a 1.1 decibel increase. However, this increase is deemed small, inconsequential and below the threshold of any perceived change in sound level. Meaning that the slight change in pitch of the sound should mean that screened gardens are unaffected and equally inside houses the noise should be no more noticeable.
The consultant applied alternative modelling software which also indicated some changes in noise pitch. These changes are judged to be minimal and within acceptable limits but are likely to be noticeable to those who have lived with the particular pitch spectrum of the traffic noise prior to the erection of the new noise barrier.
Human perception in a case such as this is likely to be of an increase in noise, partly as the sound level has increased slightly in a few locations but largely because of a change in the nature and character of the sound which will be perceived as noisier until receptors have sub-consciously adjusted and become de-sensitised to it.
You can see the results of this assessment by downloading the documents below
Developers Taylor Wimpey submitted a planning application (application reference: 19/00123/FPM) to Stevenage Borough Council for 133 homes, with a children’s play area, green open space and access routes on land west of the A1(M) and to the south of Stevenage Road.
The planning application was received by the council on 26 February 2019, with a wider public consultation of the application in accordance with Planning Regulations. Following the determination of the application at the Council’s Planning and Development Committee, the application was granted permission by the council on 25 September 2020.
As part of this permission, the following is provided by the developer:
- Maintenance to Fishers Green Common;
- The use of trees and plants from UK nurseries;
- Ongoing maintenance of the play areas;
- The provision of GP services;
- 30% affordable housing;
- A contribution towards Sustainable Transport and Infrastructure.
Most planning permissions are subject to a number of conditions to be met by the developer. As part of this permission, the Franklin Park development included a condition for details to be submitted to mitigate noise generated from the A1(M) for the future residents of this development, as the development is close to the road, and as required by planning regulations. The mitigation measures included the provision of an acoustic fence along the eastern side. The details submitted in relation to the acoustic fence were found to be acceptable by the Council’s Planning Department.
However, since the construction of the acoustic fence has commenced, a number of residents have lodged formal complaints to the Council and Ward Councillors with respect to this and the impact this is having on local residents. The Council is taking these concerns seriously and is taking steps to address these.
Download a copy of the planning timeline below
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are the building of homes allowed next to a major road with noise?
The council established that the principle of residential development in close proximity to the A1(M) was acceptable in planning terms. However, this permission had a number of conditions, one of which required mitigation for protecting the homes within the new development from road traffic noise. This condition did not specifically require an assessment on reflective noise and the impact any mitigation measures could have on existing residents.
Who approved the applications relating to this scheme?
Planning applications can be determined in one of two ways, depending on the size and nature of the application. The first is through the Planning & Development Committee, and the second through Delegated Powers given to officers. Both instances were used in this planning determination.
The application was first heard and determined by the Planning & Development Committee at Stevenage Borough Council on 25 September 2020. This meeting approved the development, although attached conditions that needed to be addressed at a later date.
The Council subsequently received a number of applications by the developer which dealt with the relevant conditions attached to the planning permission. This included applications relating to noise mitigation. These applications are as follows:
The Council subsequently received a number of applications by the developer which dealt with the relevant conditions attached to the planning permission. This included applications relating to noise mitigation. These applications can be found by searching the Public Access Planning Portal (via the button above), using the application numbers below:
- Application 21/00805/COND (Discharge of condition 7 – Noise Impact Assessment);
- Application 21/00806/COND (Discharge of condition 4 – Boundary Treatment).
In accordance with the Council’s Constitution and Scheme of Delegation, the planning department, under the Assistant Director of Planning and Regulations, has delegated powers to issue certain decisions, which includes the discharge of condition applications associated with an approved scheme. These powers are deferred to the Development Manager and the Principal Planning Officers who sit within the Council’s Planning Department to issue certain planning decisions, including discharge of condition applications.
The discharge of conditions applications referenced above, specifically in relation to the construction of an acoustic fence, were determined by officers under delegated powers and not by members of the Planning and Development Committee.
Was the visual impact of the acoustic fence properly considered?
Officers considered the visual impact of the proposed acoustic fence as detailed in the Case Officers delegated report (a copy of the report is available under the reference numbers 21/00805/COND and 21/00806/COND).
As set out in the report, whilst the fence would be a relatively tall structure, it is not uncommon for acoustic fences of this size and scale to be constructed along the boundary of residential developments in context with busy motorways and dual carriageways. There is a similar example to the west of the development on Minehead Way.
Was the impact of noise properly considered?
A condition of the planning permission was that the development required sound mitigation. As required, the developer provided a solution with evidence to support this. The Planning Department considered in their professional opinion that the acoustic fence was acceptable from their perspective and that with the fence in place, noise generated from sources such as the A1(M) would be mitigated against. In addition, the Planning Department were not advised of any issues or concerns relating to reflective sound.
The Environmental Health Department was consulted on the condition. The role of the Environmental Health Department is to advise the Planning Department as to whether the proposed measures could be expected to mitigate the impact of noise from wider sources. A final decision to discharge a condition rests with the Planning Department.
The Environmental Health Department recommended the condition regarding noise mitigation was not discharged, requiring additional information and raising concerns with the proposal submitted in relation to the proposed acoustic fence and its overall height. However, their correspondence did not stipulate the need for an additional assessment or modelling to be undertaken in regard to reflective noise or ground effects of the screening.
A further noise assessment is now being undertaken by the council.
Who was consulted on the acoustic fence and were residents notified?
As part of the application process to consider the proposed fence, Officers consulted:
- National Highways (Highways England);
- Hertfordshire County Council as Highways Authority;
- UK Power Networks; and
- The Council’s Environmental Health Department.
There were no comments from UK Power Networks and Hertfordshire County Council and National Highways raised no concerns with the acoustic fence.
There is no statutory requirement under Planning Legislation and Law to consult residents on discharge of conditions applications. However, the council are required to publish these on the website and in the Council’s weekly list of planning applications. Subsequently these were published and available to be viewed, and remain publicly available documents.
What steps are being taken to address concerns?
Officers are liaising directly with Taylor Wimpey and National Highways (Highways England) to explore options of mitigating the visual impact of the fence. However, this will take time as consideration has to be given as to the maintenance of the fence, along with ensuring any measures do not impact on the safe operation of the A1(M). We will keep residents updated via this page.
Officers have been discussing the noise impacts directly with Taylor Wimpey, who have provided a copy of a Technical Note from their appointed acoustician regarding reflective noise. This note concluded that any reflected noise received by the properties to the east of the A1(M) would be imperceptible. However, officers have appointed an independent consultant to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the erected fence in relation to reflective sound. In addition, as part of their instruction, they will also review the Technical Note issued by Taylor Wimpey and provide an update in due course.
Should you have any queries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you wish to make a comment, this can be done through our website: Compliments and Complaints.