27 November 2023

Spurs result flags up venues’ residential neighbour disputes – Victoria Du Croz speaks to Property Week

Head of Planning, Victoria Du Croz, has spoken to Property Week on how a legal dispute recently lost by Tottenham Hotspur football club has returned attention to the debate over the balance of rights and obligations for both businesses and local residents.

Commenting on how the club had objected to proposed residential developments close to their stadium (and had had a subsequent judicial review dismissed on the grounds that access to the stadium would not be unreasonably impacted), Du Croz wrote that:

“Spurs was looking at how it could future-proof itself and force Lendlease to allow very reasonable terms through the planning system, without having to rely on a commercial negotiation.”

No guarantees

Businesses such as these inevitably come with noise and disturbance to the local area, with a previous example being that from 2011 in which a proposed development within earshot of Elephant & Castle’s Ministry of Sound nightclub threatened the club’s operation.

Du Croz explained that the Ministry of Sound eventually settled its case with a compromise, writing that:

“The owners of the new residential development agreed to allow the Ministry of Sound to make a certain noise level without it being considered a nuisance. That then enabled permission to be granted.”

She caveats this story with the point that the introduction of the ‘agent of change’ principle to the National Planning Policy Framework has since altered such circumstances. Now, “the onus is on new residential schemes to put in place noise-mitigating measures.”

This principle, however, does now demand that new developments have no impact on businesses. What it emphasises, Du Croz believes, is the need for “entertainment operators to diversity and in [reaching agreements] agree what the noise level should be.”

“You want to allow for diversity. Football stadiums often have pop concerts that exhibit a different noise matrix [to football].”

Light issues

Beyond noise, the effect of light is also an issue currently being contested, with current attention current fixed on the proposed MSG Sphere development in Stratford. On this, Du Croz explains that the law isn’t as developed for light as it is for noise.

“The sphere is visually dynamic, but potentially visually intrusive. There’ll be planning policies in place to ensure that any new developer doesn’t adversely impact people’s amenity and access to light, so they will have to contend with that.”

This article was originally published by Property Week on 15 November 2023 and can be read here in full (behind their paywall).

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