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Thorpe Park to consider legal action over plans for nearby "retirement home complex"

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Thorpe Park to consider legal action over plans for nearby "retirement home complex"

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Rebecca Curley at 6:56pm 14th February 2019.

THORPE Park bosses have said they will consider legal action over a planning application for a retirement home complex.

They think screams from people on the rides may be too noisy for the elderly residents.

Merlin Entertainment, which also owns Legoland and Alton Towers, says the development of 79 apartments on land next to the Surrey theme park could impact future investment at the attraction because residents may start objecting to noise levels coming from the rides and visitors.

In a bid to “protect its position” the firm says the impact of the complex will be “significant and detrimental to its ongoing operations”.

The application for Thorpe was set to be approved by councillors on Runnymede Borough Council’s planning committee on Wednesday, February 13.

But a last minute submission from Merlin and the applicant, Eden Retirement Living, forced the matter to be deferred while discussions around the noise levels continue.

The development put forward to members was for the conversion of a Grade II listed office block, formerly used as the UK headquarters for building material firm Cemex, and included restoration of other listed buildings as well as an extra apartment block along with a gym and cinema room.

Residents living nearby who objected said they were pleased the grounds and historical house would be restored but were concerned about the extra apartment block.

Merlin raised objections over noise implications associated with their park.

A noise survey carried out in July 2018 found that “noise emitted from the theme park consists of screams from patrons and the noise created by the passing of a roller-coaster car”.

Merlin is concerned that after the retirement village is built they will be exposed to “nuisance” reports of noise from the new residents.

A last minute addendum to the application papers on Wednesday said:

“Merlin have submitted a representation from their legal counsel suggesting that the consideration of noise implications, and associated balancing exercise in the conclusion to recommend the grant of planning permission is flawed and that a judicial review will immediately be sought.”

Council officers were then also told by the applicant that because any more delay could cause a contractual problem that they would “trigger an appeal against non-determination of the application”.

The application has been deferred so officers can consider the latest submissions about ongoing discussions regarding noise associated with the development.

Some councillors were not happy with the decision, with eight voting for the deferral but seven voting against.
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Linda Gillham, ward member for Thorpe but not a committee member, said:

“I just wonder if we are being pushed too far down the legal route. The main problem is that future residents may complain about noise, but in recent years the village residents have not complained about noise.”
The application has been deferred and will come back to the committee at a later date.

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