Reporting Person: Emma Bourne & Geoff McManus
The Chairman introduced Geoff McManus and Emma Bourne, who provided the background to the report on the Notice of Motion from Councillor Liam Lyons on Construction Site Noise Limits.
Ms Bourne explained the process of how developers and contractors applied for noisy works and that there was a 28 day deadline for officers to respond with a decision. Examples of the large scale projects that required approval for noisy works were shared with the Committee, noting that out of hours works were sometimes essential for various reasons including health and safety of the public and contractors.
The Committee discussed the process and it was suggested that ward councillors were consulted on the out of hours noise applications. It was noted that there were drawbacks to this proposal which could potentially cause a delay to officers work. It was felt that further delays would be incurred if decisions were to be made by the Planning Committee, and the Members were not supportive of this recommendation. The current process of delegated authority by the Environmental Health team was explained.
The number of complaints for noisy works in 2020/21 was 105. Officers advised that multiple complaints could be for the same site, and varied from conservatory extensions to large scale developments. Members requested further details of the complaints and it was agreed that a quarterly report would be provided to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee which detailed the complaints received. The reporting function would allow members the chance to monitor the complaints rather than being heavily involved in the application process. The categorisation of the data in the report would be discussed outside of the meeting however figures for dust complaints was also welcomed by councillors.
Members were passionate about informing residents and in order to ensure that they were informed of any upcoming disruptions, it was agreed that the information would be posted on social media platforms, which could easily be shared by ward councillors. Officers would strive for consistency when informing residents and ensure that door knocks, letters and information on the website were actioned.
Members of the Committee were supportive of the officer report with the added quarterly reporting, and suggested to amend the wording of the final recommendations to allow more flexibility for officers but highlighted the importance of a political influence in the decision making process. The Committee noted the importance of clear two-way communication with officers and ward councillors on the disruptions within their ward.
The Chairman summarised the following points after the discussion:
i) Where a Prior Consent Notice has been submitted requesting noisy works outside of usual hours, Ward councillors are consulted, to the extent this is practically possible, before a decision is made.
ii) A quarterly report is prepared and submitted to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee providing further details of noise complaints received.
iii) Improve the communication to local residents for upcoming noisy works by the use of the council website and social media and ensure consistency of the use of direct communication to local residents such as letters and door knocks.
That the comments of the members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee be reported to the Executive.