Sheffield family’s anger over wait to resolve noise ‘torture’

The Topliss family, dad Chris, mum Meredith and children Eve, aged four, and Oscar, aged nine, are pictured in the rear garden of their College Street home, which is overlooked by air handling unit of the adjacent building.
The Topliss family, dad Chris, mum Meredith and children Eve, aged four, and Oscar, aged nine, are pictured in the rear garden of their College Street home, which is overlooked by air handling unit of the adjacent building.
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Hundreds of planning breaches have been reported in Sheffield – but only a handful saw enforcement action.

New figures obtained by The Star’s Your Right To Know campaign show that develpoments breaking planning rules were reported to Sheffield Council on 436 occasions in the last three years.

However, just 26 notices of enforcement – stating the action needed and a deadline for when it must be carried out – were ever served, with some taking more than two years to be put in place.

The council says 80 per cent of all breaches are resolved through negotiations.

Dad Chris Topliss and his family have been wrangling with the council over noise from an air-handling unit 15 metres from their home – which they have described as ‘torture’ – since May 2012.

Chris, of College Street, Broomhill, said: “I’m close to putting my home on the market and moving out. I’ve just had enough, it is having an impact on our mental health.

“In my job we project manage and have to stick to deadlines and get things done, but nobody seems to take ownership at the council. There is no enforcement.”

The family have now been told more noise-reduction work will take place on the unit, installed at the King Edwards Swimming Pool, in February – but say ‘no timescale’ is in place and such action has already been promised.

Extensive noise reduction work undertaken previously has not resolved it.

The King Edwards Swimming Pool Trust, the charity which runs the pool on a voluntary basis, said it is working ‘tirelessly’ to fix the problem.

The council insisted it takes ‘prompt’ action against any serious breach.

A number of reasons, such as a lack of evidence, can be behind the length of time it takes for a notice to be served.

It listed an example where a temporary stop notice was served to stop construction on a garage within a day of the matter being reported.

A council spokesman said: “We robustly investigate every planning breach reported to the authority and take every report seriously.

“In every case we have to assess the level of harm being caused by the breach and take the appropriate action.

“Sometimes this will be by way of a formal notice and, in other less serious cases, we will proactively work with all parties involved to try to remedy the breach.”