Development Panel Meeting on Dec.23rd to consider M-Sport's planning application (2/2014/0350) for redevelopment and expansion at Dovenby Hall.
The residents of the villages close to Dovenby Hall would be grateful if their very serious concerns were taken into account when you consider the above application. We all wish to see the continued success of M-Sport and any jobs this may bring, but surely this cannot be at any cost. As it stands, this proposal would cause substantial damage to the local environment/ecosystem and significant noise pollution, removing our and indeed M-Sports, main local amenity (which M-Sport’s own website describes as being ‘… an idyllic setting in the heart of the Cumbrian countryside’).
Our main concerns are:-
Over Development and Environmental Damage
Extensive loss of parkland (See attached map), including irreplaceable veteran trees, and wildlife (including protected species) habitats. Hundreds of local residents, supported by bodies such as the Council for the Protection of Rural England, Cumbria Wildlife Trust and the Forestry Commission are objecting to the damage to the local environment/ecosystem and consequent loss of amenity. Yet, the planning officer’s report claims that this application is supported by policy REM10, even though this states ‘i) Any conversions and/or redevelopment should preserve or enhance the amenity value of the hospital grounds as a whole, and the character of the Listed Building and sites of archaeological interest.’.
Noise Pollution and Loss of Amenity
The present noise limit for Dovenby Hall activities is 45dB, it was set (in 1998) to ‘protect the amenity of the residents’. This proposal seeks levels that are up to 2 (50-55dB) to 8 times louder (75dB) for 126 days a year, on the basis of a noise impact assessment that has been called into question by reports from two leading independent noise experts, who have been used as advisors by borough councils. These limits exceed those enforced on existing tracks elsewhere (e.g. Croft – only 40 noisy days), through legal action, to prevent noise nuisance and to protect amenity. Our local primary school is only 600m away and children are identified as a vulnerable group for noise pollution. We and our children cannot be expected to stay inside and keep the windows shut to have a tolerable level of noise, this is clearly an unacceptable loss of amenity in a rural location! Again, the planning officer’s report claims policy REM10 compliance, even though it states ’ii) Proposals should not have an unacceptably detrimental impact on the amenities of the residents of Dovenby Village.’.
The ‘Test track’
This would cause most of the environmental damage (See map) and lead to a huge increase in noise and loss of amenity over a wide area. There is no compelling reason for this location just convenience for the applicant, M-Sport have used other tracks to develop their business so far and many other successful motorsport/rally teams use or own tracks which are remote from their R&D and manufacturing facilities. M-Sport could continue to use other tracks or buy/build a track in a more suitable location and not be at a competitive disadvantage. Furthermore, if the track were built at Dovenby, we believe that possible legal challenges over noise nuisance (which have been successful in similar circumstances elsewhere), could see Allerdale and M-Sport forced to seriously restrict track use and to provide compensation for any loss of amenity, the track may then be a ‘White elephant’ unusable for many of the uses that M-Sport propose (this scenario would be a disaster for all concerned and is the sort of thing that good planning is supposed to prevent).
Report from Planning Officer .
The Allerdale planning officer’s decision to support the proposal might have been more understandable if it was backed up by a thorough report, based on reliable information, which demonstrated that it complied with planning policy, and there were no other options but this is definitely not the case. Despite an amended report being issued, following our complaints about the original version, the report is still littered with unanswered questions (particularly with regard to noise and alternative sites), blind acceptance of disputed information from the applicant and illogical interpretations of planning policy (see references to REM10 above) and noise nuisance guidance/standards. E.g. A key issue is the noise management plan for the track and it is now unclear if this is finalised or is still a work in progress, in the report. How can the planning committee be expected to make a judgement based on this?!