‘Significant annoyance is likely to occur’.
The above heading is an extract from the noise assessment report Steyning Parish Council has recently commissioned on the installation of a skateboard ramp in the Memorial Playing Field. Having read the report I am very surprised the Parish Council is proceeding to consider such a scheme as it paints such a bleak picture.
In Para 3.8 of the report it says that ‘it is typically taken’ that the noise rating level should not exceed the background noise level, although it adds that some councils have agreed to a scheme where the rating will exceed the background noise levels by 10bd.
From the test ramp in the park on 2nd September (which the report authors point out had light usage) the background noise varied from 35.5dB min to 47.5dB max but the test ramp noise varied from 55.1dB min to 79.5dB max - considerably more than the 10dB difference. The report also quotes World Health Organisation guidelines which say noise levels should not exceed 55dB in daytime and 50dB in the evenings (6-11pm).
The report then looked at noise levels at an existing concrete ramp elsewhere and registered a maximum noise rating of 103 dB! The authors conclude that for Newham Lane residents the average increase in noise over background noise would be 19dB in daytime and 21dB in the evening. For Mill Lane residents the average difference is 15dB in daytime and 22dB in the evening. The report says ‘significant annoyance is likely to occur’ and yet the Parish Council are still pressing ahead.
The above ratings are calculated taking into account the distance between the proposed facility and the houses. However for everyday park users who will be adjacent to the ramp and residents of Charlton Street and White Horse Square whose lounge windows are right on the roadside, where skaters will pass en-route to the facility, there will be no such reduction in the calculations so the increase in noise levels will be phenomenal.
The report says noise could be reduced by banking earth around the ramp at least 1.5 metres higher than the rest of the park and also by ensuring the facility is not used at night. The only way to do this would be with fencing which together with the earth banking would be a huge visual intrusion! The proposed site is the most visually intrusive in the whole Field, being on raised ground against the stunning visual backdrop of the South Downs.
Having had a Parish poll in 2000 which was against such a scheme and a postcard vote in 2011 which was against the scheme it is starting to seem as though the council is hellbent on getting this ramp sited in the Memorial Field regardless of the impact it will have both on the visual surroundings and noise levels in this well used and much loved area of public open space. I can only hope common sense will prevail.
Mrs G M Muncey