Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Residents kept awake by loud pump at care home development

A DEVELOPER building a care home in Henley has been criticised by residents for using a water extraction pump 24 hours a day.

Hallmark Care Homes has begun work on the 80-bed home at the former LA Fitness site in Newtown Road and says it needs to use the diesel-powered pump during the excavation and construction of the basement to prevent flooding.

The company has applied for variation of a condition imposed on the original permission. This states that no construction works should take place outside the hours of 7.30am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 1.30pm on Saturdays and none at all on Sundays and bank holidays.

It wants an exception for the operation of the temporary water extraction pump, saying this needs to operate 24 hours a day while the basement work continues.

But residents of nearby Mill Lane say the builders have been using the pump all the time since April, causing noise disturbance, and have asked South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, to take action. Enforcement officers have visited the site twice.

Objector Richard Hall said: “The pump has been operating continuously since Easter, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is very loud and causes our sleep to be disturbed every night.

“Ours is the closest property to the development and we have tried to sleep in other rooms or with the windows closed without success.”

Karin Rutter, who also lives in Mill Lane, said she understood the need to prevent flooding during excavation but said the developer should pay for an engineering plan that did not involve using the pump day and night.

She said: “The operation of this pump creates a noise disturbance that afflicts our houses and at night makes sleep impossible.

“All parties are aware that the developer may elect to operate in flagrant disregard of the conditions and pay the fine.”

Fellow resident Marcus Binning said: “We have been subjected to noise nuisance 24 hours a day.

“Obviously the purpose of upholding this condition is to prevent local residents from being subjected to this noise nuisance. There can surely be no justification for this variance, just to suit the contractor. The simple fact is the developer is in breach of this condition and seeking to remedy this by removing the condition.”

Henley Town Council’s planning committee has recommended that the application is refused by the district council.

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak said: “I think a pump going for 24 hours a day is absolutely and utterly unacceptable to the residents.”

Councillor Jane Smewing said: “It appears to be that the pump is already operating. Neighbours say it has been operating 24/7 since Easter.”

The site wasn’t earmarked for housing in the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan, which said it should remain as employment land, but the district council approved plans for the care home in 2016.

Cllr Gawrysiak said: “Anything to do with this site should be automatically refused in my book because we were pretty well shafted on this particular one.”

The district council will make a final decision by July 24.

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