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Rainham steel plant fears housing developments could drive out business because of noise

PUBLISHED: 10:51 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:07 26 March 2020

Rainham Steel fears that a new development of 239 flats could cause it be closed down, without any council reimbursment. Picture: Richard Carr

Rainham Steel fears that a new development of 239 flats could cause it be closed down, without any council reimbursment. Picture: Richard Carr

Richard Carr

Plans for 239 homes to be built in Rainham will “drive out business and force people to live in substandard housing” according to a steel plant boss.

Rainham Steel works using an open storage unit meaning most of their work is done outside creating loud noise in the vicinity. Picture: Richard CarrRainham Steel works using an open storage unit meaning most of their work is done outside creating loud noise in the vicinity. Picture: Richard Carr

The new housing development in New Road has outline planning approval. The area is predominantly industrial employment land, commercial sites of businesses selling cars, tyres, containers, sheds and a steel plant - Rainham Steel, who currently employ 90 and have been on this site since 1984. The area has recently been picked out for new homes, with Beam Park close by.

The Acquiring Authority has obtained powers to buy the plots of land from the businesses.

But Rainham Steel has not been offered a relocation deal, according to managing director Richard Carr because the plant would be too expensive to buy out, and so the authority has not included that site “in that red line”.

He fears that after the 155 flats for private selling and 84 social houses are built, the noise from the steel works could cause the new residents to complain, and force out Rainham Steel from its current site.

Rainham Steel fear the noise pollution could cause future residents to complain. Picture: Richard CarrRainham Steel fear the noise pollution could cause future residents to complain. Picture: Richard Carr

In response to this issue, the council has proposed double-glazed windows designed to shut out the noise as well as ventilation systems that lessen the need to open windows. However there are still concerns that, especially in hot weather, residents will be opening windows and being subjected to loud and irregular noises.

Rainham Steel cuts and bends reinforcement rods up to 50mm thick for construction, “a very noisy operation,” said Mr Carr.

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“No one can live in a property where you can never open their windows, it’s not a railway, it’s very heavy noisy impact, we regularly tip metal scrap bars into skips, a very loud bang crash, we have lorries crashing around in the early morning on a Sunday,” he explained.

Rainham Steel works using an open storage unit meaning most of their work is done outside creating loud noise in the vicinity. Picture: Richard CarrRainham Steel works using an open storage unit meaning most of their work is done outside creating loud noise in the vicinity. Picture: Richard Carr

“It means to meet these housing targets, they are driving out business and forcing people to live in substandard housing.”

Rainham Steel hired an external noise assessor to illustrate the impact of the noise to the council and potential residents, and presented it to the planning committee. The assessment found that even inside the properties closest to the steel works, the noise rating was found to be “well in excess” of the standards set by the British guidance on sound insulation and noise reduction.

The noise assessors, MZA Acoustics, also found that the level of sound reduction necessary would be at the upper limit of what’s commercially available for residential glazing, and would be very expensive.

A spokesman from Havering Council said: “The council undertook consultations on the proposed plans for New Rainham Road, and all comments and concerns were outlined in reports to the planning committee. These reports included considerations of the issue of noise for residents.

“The planning application has been deferred by the Strategic Planning Committee on February 27 so that a site visit could take place before further consideration is given on the application. The council, in its capacity as Local Planning Authority, is satisfied that there is a solution that ensures the safety and comfort of future residents, without causing issues for businesses in the area.”

But MP for Dagenham and Rainham Jon Cruddas shares the steel plant’s concerns about noise pollution. He said: “I don’t want future residents coming to me complaining about their quality of life because of noise and an inability to open their windows.

“The planning authority seem happy that this is acceptable because residents have ventilation systems which will provide an alternative to opening windows. If accepted, we appear to be saying it is okay for people to open their windows provided they are happy to put up with the noise! There is clear planning guidance in place to protect residents from noise pollution, yet I am concerned we might not be abiding by this.”

Another business in New Road also shares concerns about the new development. CTM Car Hire has been offered a relocation package but according to owner Danny Searle, it is “well under market value.”

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