Construction of acoustic fence dubbed ‘Great Wall of Littlehampton’ is underway

Pictures show an acoustic fence being constructed directly behind Littlehampton residents’ gardens despite promises of an ‘independent review’.

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 4:36 pm
The new fence directly behind residents' back gardens

The wall is intended to mitigate noise from the Fitzalan Link Road which is being built by developer Persimmon to join the new Lyminster bypass at the A259.

The wall is a metre higher than the 2.5 metres originally planned and is made out of steel rather than timber.

The residents of Highdown Drive and Amberley Close have created a Facebook group called ‘The Great Wall of Littlehampton’ to voice their concerns.

The same view before the fence panels went in

Linda Bensusan, a resident and member of the group, said: “The wall is too high for the expected noise levels, it is too close to the houses and bungalows.

“The speed limit being retained at 30 mph would have resulted in the height of the fence being lower and would be safer for road users and children going to schools.”

Ms Bensusan called the wall panels ‘ugly’ and ‘intrusive’.

She added: “ADC are commissioning a review but the developer has gone ahead with it anyway, making potential costs of changing it more expensive.

The maintenance gap between the properties and the acoustic fence

“Many councillors seem supportive of concerns but the general feeling is that the planning department and developers don’t want to be bothered with engaging with residents, either when the decisions were originally made, or now when the reality is clear.”

An increased height of 3.5 metres was previously agreed to mitigate noise from the road and the steel construction material was approved in April 2020 as it is thought to last four times longer than timber.

Another resident, Tracy Lynch started a petition to lower the speed limit of the link road from 40 mph to 30 and it has since garnered almost 400 signatures.

Residents say the wall includes a smaller ‘maintenance gap’ than originally planned and pictures show growth in the gap after a few weeks.

The fence panels

In April, a Persimmon spokesperson said: “During the application process, that included a detailed review of our consultants’ technical studies, the only solution to safeguard existing properties from the impact of noise was a 3.5 metre high acoustic fence.”

Ms Lynch noticed that fence panels had been delivered late last month despite a promised independent review into the wall not having been completed.

She said: “It looks like ‘The Wall’ may be going up without the report even happening. This time last week no one had yet been appointed to do it [and] this week these [panels] are being delivered!

“Unless there is something going on we don’t know about, being open and transparent doesn’t seem to be a strong point.”

She added that the current panels were not making a ‘significant difference’ to noise levels from the surrounding area.

She said: “The noise report says that the estimated decibel value was 55 decibels. That’s something like a washing machine and this extra metre will cover up seven decibels, which is less than rustling leaves.

“The council should be thinking about their council tax payers. There are around 75 down this road and it seems that not one person has said ‘actually that might not be very nice to look at’.

“A lot of these people are elderly – they have been in their houses for nearly two years because they have been shielding and the garden is their life. That’s where they get their fresh air and grow things.

“When we bought this house, we knew the road was going in and a fence was going up. Somewhere along the line it was agreed that it would be a 3.5 metre steel fence which is a monumental change that will have a detrimental effect on property, the people living behind it, and people’s mental health.”

In March, an ADC spokesperson said they had ‘invited Persimmon to pause their work on the fence temporarily’ in order to ‘explore alternatives’.

In a recent statement, an ADC spokesperson confirmed that an ‘independent report’ had been commissioned.

They said: “The fence is being built in accordance with approved planning permission and is intended to keep any noise generated by traffic using the new road to within acceptable limits.

“We appreciate the concerns of residents and have commissioned an independent report to look at all options and will consider the findings of that report as soon as we have them.”

A spokesperson for Persimmon Homes Thames Valley said: “The works being carried out on the Fitzalan Link Road are being delivered in accordance with the specifications and timetable approved by Arun District Council.

“It is appropriate therefore that any comments regarding the specifications or consultation and planning processes should be directed to Arun District Council.”

Ms Lynch said: “What Persimmon are doing is perfectly legal but it is immoral in our opinion.

“They have got the permissions and that is what they are doing. This is directly affecting me, my family and around 75 other households.”