Rainham Steel plant fears housing developments could drive out business because of noise
PUBLISHED: 10:51 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:37 14 April 2020
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.
A joint venture between the council and a housing association are seeking an outline planning approval for a new housing development in New Road.
The area is predominantly industrial employment land comprising of businesses selling cars, tyres, containers, sheds and a steel plant. Rainham Steel, which currently employs 90 people at this location, has 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 included in the area covering the compulsory purchase order which according to managing director Richard Carr is because “our business would be difficult to relocate and too expensive to buy out”.
He fears that after the 155 flats for private sale and 84 social houses are built, the noise from the steel works will cause the new residents to complain, and ultimately force Rainham Steel into closure.
In response to this issue, the council has proposed highly insulated windows designed to shut out the noise with sufficient ventilation to avoid the need to open windows.
However there are still concerns that, especially in hot weather, residents will be opening windows and be subjected to loud and irregular noise disturbance. The Rainham Steel operation can work up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Rainham Steel cuts and bends reinforcement rod up to 50mm thick and stores other heavy steel products in the open for the construction industry.
“Its a very noisy operation,” said Mr Carr, “no one can live in a property where they can never open their windows. The noise we create is heavy impact noise from steel handling and processing that can occur at any time of the day or night.
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“We have lorries, fork trucks and outdoor cranes constantly moving at all times that also create noise and dust.
“Ultimately this shows that the council are prepared to meet their housing targets at any cost, including driving out business and forcing people to live in substandard housing.”
Rainham Steel commissioned an external noise assessment which monitored noise over a seven day period to illustrate the impact of the noise to the council and potential residents and presented it to the planning committee.
The assessment concluded that the noise levels would be “well in excess” of the guidance set by the British Standards and National policy.
Noise assessors MZA Acoustics also found 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 – possibly more than the budget for social housing.
MP for Dagenham and Rainham Jon Cruddas shares the steel plant’s concerns. 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.”
Another business in New Road also shares concerns about the new development. CTM Van Hire has been offered a relocation package but according to owner Danny Searle, it is “well under market value.”
“We’ve always supplied to the local area, and there’s nowhere around for us to go that isn’t double what we can afford,” he said.
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.”
Mr Carr said the council’s senior public protection officer has confirmed that Rainham Steel will have no protection from legitimate noise complaints and that his department would have no choice other than to enforce against the company if complaints arose.
The spokesman said the planning application was deferred by the Strategic Planning Committee on February 27 so that a site visit could take place, adding: “The council is satisfied there is a solution that ensures the safety and comfort of future residents, without causing issues for businesses in the area.”
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