A decision over whether to build 50 houses next to the M11 has been delayed by an Essex council after fears future residents could suffer from “permanent” noise.

The planning committee voted to defer the application by Rochester Properties Ltd at a meeting today (June 8), which is seeking outline permission for 50 homes in Bedwell Road, Elsenham.

Members raised concerns future residents could experience up to 68 dB of noise, particularly those living in the scheme’s affordable housing, which would be built nearest the motorway.

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Delaying the decision, councillors said they needed further clarification over whether it will be possible to mitigate noise from the motorway and will also conduct a site visit.

Planning agent Ed Durrant, Pegasus Group, said: “Our client’s site is a logical extension to Elsenham, as it is bound to the north, east and south by residential development.

“The woodland to the west will be maintained and managed to provide greater ecological and amenity value to the village.”

He continued to say there had been discussions with acoustic consultants and the council’s environmental health officer, which had informed the design of the proposals.

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Another representative of the applicant later said they had requested the officer attend the meeting to avoid leaving questions over noise unanswered, however the officer was not present.

Cllr Judy Emmanuel (Residents for Uttlesford, Newport) said future residents of the scheme’s affordable homes could experience up to 58-68dB of noise, according to a map from a noise impact assessment submitted alongside the application.

She said: “Just remember that road noise isn’t intermittent, it’s permanent. It’s all the time. All day, all night, all the time.

“I’m really not comfortable with the idea of building houses where you can’t open the windows and on the outside the noise level, even once mitigated, only gets down to 55dB. That’s the same as a loud conversation and that’s the best case scenario.”

It is being proposed that the height of the houses, particularly a three-storey building containing affordable housing, would partly mitigate noise from the M11 by forming a barrier, according to a council report.

The woodland would also separate the houses from the motorway.

A separate application near the site by developers Gladman was dismissed at appeal because of the impact noise would have had on the future residents.

However, according to the report, this site was between a railway on one side and the M11 on the other, which would have worsened the noise.

The committee will decide on whether to approve the scheme at a later meeting.