Leicester City Council has given Walters Architects the option to withdraw a planning application for an apartment scheme in the city centre due to the lack of an accurate sound survey. Alternatively, the Local Authority will refuse the application because we are unable to provide the required technical data to accompany the application.
The sound engineers are unable to collect typical noise data generated by nearby pubs and clubs in this part of the city because venues are closed due to the Lockdown. If they undertake the works now the information will just be inaccurate once the units are delivered and the centre is fully functional again.
Although the council sympathise with our situation, they simply can not consider the application without this accompanying accurate data and can’t just keep the application running.
Understandably, this was not the news the client wanted to hear as they were all ready to take the proposal to the next stage of pre-construction activity, Building Control submission. This then has an effect on the Tender process and, ultimately, the construction scheduled for the start of spring of ’21. In fact, because we don’t know when normality will return, we can’t say when the test can take place at all.
Obviously, the intention was to wait until Leicester’s Lockdown was lifted and then take the sound tests at that point. The client was understanding, we withdrew the application and then held our breath. Now that the second lockdown is upon us the whole project is in doubt. The client cant simply put the scheme on hold indefinitely.
These noise studies are required to inform on the suitability of new residential units in these high populated locations. We totally understand the council’s stance but are a little disappointed that previous data (when venues were open) can not be relied upon.
This is just one case of Planning Permission not being grated for reasons beyond their control due to the pandemic.
To date, Walters Architects have not been greatly affected by the Lockdowns this far but believe there will be a bottleneck for applications being stalled and believe no works will be approved for contractors to start next spring. Then the real problems will start.
The government need to really consider fast-tracking schemes or considering away to keep the construction industry going next year. Our advice to clients is to plan early as there will no doubt be a rush on after the Lockdown and the planners will be overwhelmed with applications.