Resident makes impassioned plea at opening of giant Milton Keynes warehouse planning hearing

A Milton Keynes resident made an impassioned plea for a planning inspector to consider the human factor when he decides if developers can use lorries at their giant warehouse 24 hours a day.

Blakelands residents are on the same side as Milton Keynes Council at a planning hearing which opened today (Tuesday) after developer GUPI 6 appealed to the Government over restricted operating hours and external lighting at the 18m warehouse in Yeoman’s Drive.

“Please take the human side of this into the equation,” said resident Davina Scholefield

Mrs Scholefield and 29 others at the online hearing had been listening to noise experts from both sides discussing which British standards to use to measure noise levels.

Mrs Scholefield added: “It is based on supposition based on industry standards but we are human beings experiencing it.

“All I can do is speak from personal experience.”

Although the warehouse has been completed, it remains vacant and the area is generally quiet and peaceful, the hearing heard.

But the hearing was told that the building magnifies sounds, including the rumbling of traffic from the M1.

Planning inspector Benjamin Clarke plans to visit the Blakelands area before making his decision.

And he told Mrs Scholfield that the human element would be a part of his considerations.

The greatest part of the day was devoted to a discussion of noise, including “noise with character”, intermittent noise and impulsive noise.

MK Council’s expert Sam Bryant contested the developer’s claim that no-one living nearby would be affected.

Mr Bryant said because residents had become used to a certain level of noise in the years where the warehouse hadn’t been used, new activity would be heard.

Jane Poole, a resident of Bessemer Court since 1984, said John Lewis, the occupiers of the previous smaller, now demolished warehouse at the site, had agreed not to operate the site 24 hours a day.

But the meeting heard that was an informal agreement, not an official one.

And fellow Bessemer Court resident, Joseph Rowe, said when a cherry picker and a car were heard idling in the car park, everyone could hear it.

Both sides agreed that noise would be caused by the movement of large vehicles, alarms, engines revving, roller cages, forklifts and vehicles using a turning circle.

But the developer’s noise expert Clive Bentley said that at night the ambient noise level was 50 decibels and activity on the site would not be noisier than that. And the developer wants to plant more screening.

“If that was the case, people would already be having a problem,” he said.
“This is going to make no difference whatever.”

But Mr Bryant said the key issue is context.

“Residents don’t currently have commercial noise. No night-time activity has occurred.

“It is an adverse impact that wasn’t there before.”

But Mr Bentley, who has 30 years of experience, referred to some of his opponent’s contentions being “absolute nonsense”, and “completely irrelevant standards”.

He said: “Because it can be heard doesn’t mean there is a problem.”

The hearing continues.