Planning Cannot Authorise Nuisance

noise_nuisanceDoing your research into the neighbourhood before you buy a new house is common sense, as a recent case shows.

The case was heard in the Court of Appeal and involved an application for an injunction and a claim for damages against the owners of a motocross track in Suffolk, the purpose being to prevent the noise nuisance suffered by a couple who had bought a house in the area.

Planning permissions allowing motorsport in the area had been granted as far back as 1975. This was the main factor which led the Court to overturn the decision of the High Court, which had ruled in favour of the couple. In the view of the Court of Appeal ‘the noise of motorsports…is an established part of the character of the locality’.

In his judgment, LJ Jackson said that ‘planning cannot authorise the commission of a nuisance’ and commented that applications for planning permission had to be considered on the basis of whether they would, as a matter of fact, change the character of a locality. Whether or not a particular activity would or would not constitute a nuisance ‘must be decided against the background of its changed character’.

The couple had bought a property in an area in which motorsports had long been established and constituted a part of the character of the locality. They could not expect to change the established character of the locality.

Although it may be encouraging to note that the Court considered that planners should take a dim view of a planning application that would lead to a nuisance for the residents of a locality if granted, it also shows the wisdom of making sure that sufficient research is done to make sure you are aware of any significant environmental or other issues affecting the surrounding area before deciding to acquire a property.

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