Fence ends school’s ‘noise nightmare’

A SCHOOL has been forced to put a 10ft wall around its playground to block the sound of children playing.

A report into the noise of pupils at Ss Osmund and Andrew RC Primary School found that children were causing a “statutory noise nuisance”.

The independent report went on to say that if a factory or commercial premises had been making the same amount of noise, Bolton Council would have had no hesitation in serving the company with a Noise Abatement Notice — a legal order telling a business to reduce its noise output.

The school in Breightmet has now submitted a planning application to build a three metre high, 70 metre long wall — dubbed an “acoustic fence” — between its playground and homes in Kilbride Avenue.

Shrubbery will be planted to “soften the image” of the wall.

The building of the fence, which will cost £2,000, will represent the end of a three-year battle by residents who say their lives have been blighted by noise.

Bolton Council carried out its first noise survey in April, 2008, following complaints from residents.

It said the playground noise — 65 decibels — did not constitute a nuisance.

A 150-signature petition, organised by resident William Disley, was handed into the council in July, 2009, calling for action.

In March, 2010, the council commissioned an independent survey, to try to address residents' concerns.

This report recommended the acoustic fence and the council then put this idea to the school, which is funded by the Salford Diocese.

The noise problem started in 2007, when the old Moss primary school was extended and merged with two other schools, St Andrew’s and St Osmund’s.

The site went from housing a handful of pupils to having more than 380, as well as a nursery.

Kilbride Avenue resident Mr Disley, who says he has spent more than £5,000 dealing with the problem, said: “The noise levels during the day are extreme and exceed the recommended levels.”

Denise Whitehead, aged 64, who works part time as an estate agent, said she was at home a lot of the time and faced a “noise nightmare”.

She said: “It goes all the way through the day.

“Then there are afterschool clubs, it does grate on you.”

David Holloway, aged 66, said: “I don’t mind kids shouting and laughing, but when it’s a wall of sound, the noise level here is horrific.”

A report by Hepworth Acoustics carried out for for Mr Disley in August, 2010, said: “If this level of noise impact was produced by any commercial premises, the local authority would have no hesitation in serving a Noise Abatement Notice, to secure a reduction in noise impact.”

The school’s chairman of governors, Edward Hill, said: “We consider it money well spent. What price do you put on peace and quiet and good neighbourly relations?”

A council spokesman said: “There was no statutory noise nuisance and so the council was not in a position to enforce any action.

“However, we are now satisfied that the school is now taking steps to respond to the concerns of residents.”

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