Jan 3rd, 2023
7 mins

It’s difficult to put a precise number on the amount of new housing needed in England with the growing population.

In 2019, the government pledged to “continue to increase the number of homes being built” and referred to a need to rebalance the housing market towards more home ownership. It said progress towards a target of 300,000 homes per year by the mid-2020s would continue, which would see us build at least a million more homes.

We believe these government targets are starting to have a knock on effect on the industry as our member’s report growing concerns over new housing developments. The main concern is new housing being built too close to our existing regional distribution centres (RDC’s). With RDC’s operating 24/7 in supplying the nation’s food, new residential housing threatens businesses through disruption once occupied, with residents subsequently raising complaints of statutory nuisance noise to local authority. Invariably the long established business then being reclassified as the noisy neighbour.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 local authorities are obliged to investigate noise complaints and may issue notices to require abatement of any noise nuisance caused by the business to residents.  The best way to protect against this is by the planning process which is in place to prevent land use conflicts.  Planning could refuse the development if there is too much conflict or require the developer to pay for noise mitigation at the business (under a section 106 agreement) and/or ensure the dwellings are protected by including noise mitigation schemes in the design and layout of the housing.

Local authorities have seen an increase in the number of complaints from residents of new developments built next to regional distribution centres and other businesses. House builders are applying for planning consent and building wherever they can but if businesses don’t object to these plans, they may find themselves on the wrong side of legislation and served with noise abatement notices. It is no longer an uncommon scenario for housing developments to be built within the vicinity of existing businesses.  Developers should consider the acoustic environment when designing homes to ensure suitable mitigation measures are implemented.  This means clearly identifying the effects of existing businesses on the new housing development.   Therefore, to ensure these measures have taken place, we cannot stress enough that as an existing business you should get involved at the earliest possible stage of the planning process and submit your views or objections to the Planning Authority.  If you don’t, it is possible that a new housing development could impact on your current activities if these are deemed to have an adverse effect on the residents living in the new housing.

BFFF has provided some quotes from a cross section of businesses from membership on this issue:

‘We object to all planning applications close to our regional distribution centres, which then means builders must put in extra triple glazing, sound abatement banks’ National food wholesaler – Brakes, Paul Duncalf

‘We have seen an increase in complaints, during COVID we could deliver at any time but not so much now, this is affecting deliveries to our retailers’ National food manufacturer/retailer – Iceland, Stephen Dean

BFFF intends to lobby government with concerns over the location of new housing development as not to impair the essential services provided within our industry.

In addition, we also wish to raise the concern of the use green belt land for housing development and the depletion of grade 1 soil which can be used for agriculture with housing development being better suited to brown field sites.

In the short term we urge our members to monitor planning applications per region and appeal in order to protect your business so you don’t become the noisy neighbour. The government planning portal can be useful in order to provide early warning of housing development in your area:


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