WHATEVER DESIGN THE COUNCIL COMES UP WITH IT WILL BE TOO NOISY.

Atkins, the Council's original expert says so.

Saunders, the Country's leading expert says so.

Acoustic Dimensions, the council's second expert says not -HOWEVER , this report is completely unreliable.

Summary of Defects with AD Report which mean it cannot be relied on as a predictor of nuisance (all except 1 below are in section 6 of the Saunders report):-

1 The football match comparative data was deliberately corrupted by some supporters of the MPF project who made as much noise as possible. The Council has REFUSED to meet with us to discuss the witness statement we hold about this. Even though it knows that the planning committee meeting decision will be invalidated if based on this corrupted AD report. At least one of those responsible for running the skatepark campaign knows all about this - he was personally involved in the corruption says the witness. 
2 AD departed from all local authority testing procedures by failing to assess the skatepark “LAeq against the underlying background LA90– (the level exceeded for 90% of the time), not the ambient LAeq. It is the noise impact during the 10% of each hour when the background noise is at or below the LA90 that relates to its annoyance. This is standard procedure for all local authorities.”
3 “The AD report contains no mention of the maximum noise levels during skateboarding or their impact, which are the major sources of annoyance to residential occupants”
4 Failed to take into account duration and frequency of the noise generated by the skatepark when comparing it to football – see the Saunders helicopter analogy
5 Failed to take into account the unusually harsh and “industrial” nature of the noise when comparing with football and other existing activities on the MPF
6 Treated it as a point source instead of a large area source, thereby underestimating its impact
7 Used log averaging which also had an arithmetical error and so skewed the results
8 Used insufficient readings over too short a period to get a proper picture of the existing ambient noise levels
9 Used site-wide measurements which skewed the average towards the higher Mill Road readings


Revised Steyning Parish Council scheme:

NB There are new plans in preparation by SPC with different bunding and the incredible proposal to add car parking next to the skatepark (this latter decision being subject to judicial review). 

The bunding is being changed by SPC because the HDC landscape officer agreed that our visualisations (below) showed accurately what the Council had not even realised its design would result in - it was relying on the grossly misleading illustrations prepared by the contractor. The officer found this design unacceptable.   The police also objected to the bunds proposed by the Council.

The removal of the bunds will leave the Council with a design which its own expert (Atkins) said would be too noisy and which our expert (Saunders) also said would be too noisy. The Council is currently relying on a report from Acoustic Dimensions which uses the novel and simplistic approach of saying that, because football played for a few hours each week in Winter produces no complaints, then a dawn to dusk skatepark throughout the year is acceptable.  This takes no account of the unusual noise a skatepark produces (all other experts add 5 decibels to reflect this).  There is also the problem that the timing of the Acoustic Dimensions visit was leaked and so supporters of the skatepark were able to ensure that an unusually high noise level was generated to form the base-line of the readings.

The noise reports are merely predictions of likely noise. The reports by Atkins and Saunders, who are leading experts on skatepark noise are going to be much more accurate predictions than the AD one. If the skatepark gets planning permission and is built and then Atkins and Saunders prove to be right, the Friends will not hesitate to use the Environmental Protection Act to close the facility down on the ground of noise nuisance and the Parish Council has been informed of this. Similar action resulted in a skatepark at Devizes being closed permanently.  Saunders was the expert witness.

Click here to see a detailed critique of the so-called analysis of the three sound reports which was made by the HDC environmental health officer.

Visualisations

FoMPF has commissioned professional visualisations to scale so that people can see just what the impact of the earth mounds which will surround the proposed skatepark will be. These reveal that the biggest mound will be taller than an adjacent Transit van and very intrusive within the context of the South Downs National Park. The mounds will become muddy heaps as they are likely to be used for bmx-ing and we are also concerned that children using the skatepark will be hidden from view and thus possibly in danger. The first visualisation is a cross-section:

The second is a 3-D image:


More details of their application are given below:

In January 2013 Steyning Parish Council issued a revised scheme which is a different shape to their original proposal and extends much further into the top field of the MPF. It would mean the existing Steyning Strikers pitch would be lost and there would certainly be no space for a second pitch. They have issued a second sound report which claims the noise emanating from the skatepark would be no more obtrusive than that generated by existing football matches. This was based on readings taken at one match where supporters knew sound recordings were being made. It also ignores the fact that football only takes place for a couple of hours each day at winter weekends, and is the sound of human voices, whereas the skatepark will be open every day of the year from 8.30am to dusk. The noise generated by skateboarders  performing tricks on concrete is discordant and jarring.

FoMPF have written a letter detailing all its objections to the revised scheme which can be read here



Objections to the revised scheme can still be sent to Horsham District Council . They can be made by e mail to planning@horsham.gov.uk quoting reference DC/12/0940.


Background:

A skatepark has long been proposed for Steyning and while the Friends of Memorial Playing Field are not against the proposal we do not feel the Memorial Playing Field is a suitable site. In 2011 the Steyning Parish Council commissioned a postal survey for residents, asking them to indicate whether they felt a skateboard facility should be sited in the MPF, or in the field opposite the Leisure Centre in Horsham Road.  There was no option to say they did not want a skatepark at all. Of the 685 responses, 70% voted for the Horsham Road site, 25% for the MPF.  At a public meeting held in January 2012 residents were not given any choice of site and were told falsely that the skatepark would not be in the National Park, that it was very much smaller than the plans actually submitted and that it would comply with the usual noise criteria.



Original Steyning Parish Council proposal:

Steyning Parish Council submitted planning application ref: DC/12/0940 in May for a skatepark with bunding (mounds of earth up to 1.5m high) in all occupying a space equivalent to 5 tennis courts, sited mainly within the South Downs National Park boundary.


Noise concerns:

Steyning Parish Council commissioned Atkins to undertake a noise assessment in 2011 and you can read their report by clicking here . The Friends are concerned that The Parish Council has not taken into account the World Health Guideline that 'Existing quiet outdoor areas should be preserved and the ratio of intruding noise to natural background sound should be kept low'. The National Park policy at para 123 says planning decisions should 'identify and protect areas of tranquillity which have remained relatively undisturbed by noise and are prized for their recreational and amenity value for this reason'. The Defra Noise Policy Statement for England 2010 refers to the importance of 'protecting quiet places and quiet times' and Horsham District Council's own DC1c policy limits consent to 'quiet informal recreational use'.

The new sound report issued in January 2013 ignores all previous criteria which the Parish Council undertook to adhere to. In its presentation on 28/01/2012 Steyning Parish Council stated 'The Parish Council is committed to ensuring that the potential noise from the facility is within the guidelines laid down by British Standards, WHO (World Health Organisation and CIEH (Chartered Institute of Environmental Health). Cllr Lloyd said 'The Parish Council would not consider installing a skateboard facility that did not meet these criteria'. The new scheme does not meet these criteria.

HDC decision and Judicial Review:

In June 2012 Horsham District Council approved the planning application for the skatepark subject to further consideration of acoustic and landscaping issues, proposed hours of use and to establish whether a site at Steyning Grammar School was a possible option.This has been delegated to officers to decide in conjunction with three HDC councillors, including Mr George Cockman, who represents Steyning. If they are satisfied after this further investigation then the application will be approved. If this happens the Friends will launch a Judicial Review as we believe the planning application process has been flawed and the decision has not taken crucial planning policies into account. If the Judicial Review is successful then the planning consent will be overturned.