R4U at UDC brokers agreement for Bloor Homes to fix significant transformer noise problem on new estate

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) in delighted that, after its intervention at UDC, Bloor Homes intends to fix a historic development problem on an estate in Saffron Walden.

Since the new estate was built at Mortimer’s Gate, on the former Ridgeons site, residents’ homes have been blighted by the loud noise from an electrical substation. The developer, Bloor Homes, built the homes very close to the substation, but didn’t provide the type of mitigation that would have reduced the 24×7 electrical buzz to acceptable levels. Proper mitigation requires the substation to be housed inside a small brick building with sound shielding, reducing the sound by 20-25 decibels. Instead, only a wooden fence was put around it.

The previous Conservative administration at UDC should not have let this happen, and instead waved through the development.

Since Residents for Uttlesford was elected to lead UDC, they’ve been fixing how planning works at the authority, and taken a much tougher line with developers.

Petrina Lees (R4U) Petrina Lees (R4U)

When residents alerted R4U to the issue, UDC wrote to Bloor, who refused to act.  Then UDC Leader, R4U’s Cllr Petrina Lees, stepped in, writing a strong, open letter directly to the owner, John Bloor, appealing for action. She reminded him that his company make large corporate profits that enable them to be a significant and frequent donor to the Conservative Party, so they should have adequate resources to ‘do the right thing’ at Mortimer’s Gate.

In response, Bloor Homes have stated that “While we met all the required planning conditions at the time, the noise levels have been retested against current standards and found to be above acceptable standards. It has therefore already been recommended to our board to approve the cost of the mitigation when it next meets at the end of September at which point, we will again be discussing the matter with the local authority.” R4U thanks Bloor for re-evaluating the issue and looks forward to a quick resolution for residents.

The text of the open letter is below:

Dear Mr Bloor

I am writing to you directly, as an open letter and as a last-ditch attempt, after my Council chief executive has failed to make progress over this issue with his contact within your company, Terry Tedder.

I am appealing to you to arrange for Bloor Homes to step in to fund an engineering solution to deal with the appalling noise nuisance experienced by residents of the homes built by Bloor Homes in Mortimer’s Gate, Saffron Walden.

This estate, completed as recently as 2019, was constructed around a pre-existing industrial electricity sub-station. The noise reduction installed by Bloor Homes around this loud buzzing electricity sub-station is woefully inadequate, and dozens of nearby homes that your company built are blighted 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by a loud, low hum. We have commissioned independent noise experts to assess the estate, and their report is included. The evidence is clear and incontrovertible. We have similarly advised Mr Tedder of the estimated cost of the necessary engineering solution, as discussed with expert engineers.

Knowing full well about this noise problem, your company merely installed a wooden fence around the electricity sub-station, which I understand reduces the noise nuisance in the region of 5 decibels – but a further reduction of 18-20 decibels is still needed so as to bring the noise down to tolerable levels.

My local authority dropped the ball in not holding your company to higher standards when planning permission was sought and then when the houses were built. My administration has since been given majority control of Uttlesford District Council by residents at two subsequent elections, and I am determined that we will fix this wrong uncovered under earlier administrations where the residents are so badly suffering today and into the future with no end in sight.

It is reported that your company records annual profits of over £250 million, and that you personally are worth well over £1 billion. It is further reported that you/your company are huge donors to the Conservative Party. You and your company clearly therefore have the wherewithal to fund the solution and the social instincts to make discretionary payments towards what you consider the wider social good.

I am writing to invite you to personally visit this housing development that your company built and to hear the noise for yourself. I cannot possibly believe that if you did so you would hesitate to step up and fund the engineering solution necessary to fix this problem – a purpose-built, specially designed roofed structure to surround and overtop the electricity sub-station, and to do the job properly that your company’s porous wooden fence so very clear does not do. The cost of this solution is likely less than one tenth of one percent of your company’s posted annual profits, so even if you cannot bring yourself to do the right thing out of good conscience, I hope that doing the right thing for your company’s reputation will appeal to your business sense.

I’d be pleased to show you round the estate, and I am sure one or two residents would let you sit quietly in their homes, with the windows closed (even during the hot months) and let you reach your own conclusion as to whether you or any of your loved ones would live with such a nuisance that would put your and your children’s health at such risk. Or come quietly on your own, get out of your car, and spend five minutes listening, and I cannot believe you will not then do the right thing.

What you personally do next over Mortimer’s Gate represents a crossroads for you and your company’s reputation in my district and potentially beyond: you will be the hero who rights a manifest wrong, or you will simply be the villain who cannot find a mere crumb of your corporate profits and is content to leave ruined the lives of people who made the mistake of living in homes that carry your name.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Petrina Lees
Leader, Uttlesford District Council