Fury as sleepy town turns up the volume

SO much for 'sleepy Suffolk!'One of the county's most picturesque towns is today revealed as the place you would be lucky to get a decent night's sleep.

SO much for 'sleepy Suffolk!'

One of the county's most picturesque towns is today revealed as the place you would be lucky to get a decent night's sleep.

Believe it or not, tests have shown that deafening decibels in Woodbridge at night, have burst through noise levels classed as safe by the World Health Organisation.

The news comes as environmental campaigns group ENCAMS yesterday launched a bid to make people more aware of the noise they make. Ruby Wax helped show how loud lovemaking by neighbours, music, barking dogs, and DIY fans were making increasing numbers of people depressed and ill.


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According to noise experts, genteel Woodbridge – the land of art galleries, antique and book shops, and quiet walks along the river – could easily compete with the volume produced by the world's great cities.

Think downtown New York or Los Angeles, busy Barcelona, Rome with its roaring traffic, or Athens where builders are working night and day to get the city ready for next summer's Olympic Games.

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Or spare a thought for those villages below the Stansted flight-path and fighting plans for another runway.

Yet environmental health officers say the noise in Woodbridge is so great in the centre of the town that it could disturb the sleep of people living above two huge new proposed shops.

Acoustics experts are now looking at ways to shut out the sounds so that the development just off The Thoroughfare can go ahead.

Director of environmental services Deborah Robinson said: "The night-time ambient noise level in the area is so high as to exceed the guidelines given in the WHO document Guidelines for Community Noise.

"Government planning advice recommends the use of this guidance when assessing the suitability of residential developments in locations where high noise levels prevail.

"The guidance recommends that, to prevent sleep disturbance from being caused to residents, ambient noise levels external to dwellings should not exceed 45 decibels."

In down town Woodbridge the levels range on average from 49dB to 52dB, though during the tests there were noises which exceeded 60dB and 80dB.

So what is pumping up the volume in the town centre?

The problems are a fan in the Co-op store which operates 24 hours a day, compressor and other machinery at a cake shop and bakery working all night, and night-time deliveries to business premises in the area.

But planners are confident ways can be found to mitigate the levels, such as special windows for the first and second-storey flats, and the development will still be allowed to go ahead.

Councillors have agreed to visit the site first to look at a number of concerns before deciding whether to grant planning permission.

Whitehall Investments Ltd want to build two shops, larger than the Woolworth store the building would join on to, six flats above and a basement car park, at the top of Oak Lane car park behind the main shopping street.

Some 14 public parking spaces and nine private ones would be lost. There would still be a pedestrian passageway from The Thoroughfare to Oak Lane.

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

n Is Woodbridge noisy – or is your neighbourhood noisier? Where is the noisiest night-time place in Suffolk? Write to Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

fastfacts: How noisy is that?

n Jet take-off at 25 metres – 150dB.

n Thunderclap, chain saw – 120dB.

n Live rock music – 114dB.

n Farm tractor, power lawn mower, dustcart – 100dB.

n Food blender – 88dB.

n Air-con unit at 100ft – 60dB.

n Bird calls – 44dB.

n Quiet rural area – 30dB.

n Breathing – 10dB.

n Noise measured in decibels does not increase in the same pattern as other measurement systems – for example, 110dB is not twice as noisy as 55dB but nearly 12 times louder, while 120dB would be 32 times louder than 70dB.

source: the internet

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Making a complaint:

1: Before the council can take legal action on anyone's behalf, it must be satisfied that a 'statutory nuisance' exists.

Many factors determine whether a noise is a nuisance, including time of day, location, duration, volume and type of noise.

2: An informal letter will be sent to the person complained about.

The complainer will be asked to keep a diary of when the noise occurs and how it affects them

3: Monitoring equipment maybe installed in the complainer's home.

4: A council officer may visit to assess the problem.

5: If a nuisance exists, an abatement notice will be served.

6: In some cases the council will obtain a warrant to enter premises and seize noisy equipment.

7. The final option is to take the 'offender' to magistrates court where they can be fined and have their equipment forfeited.

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