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RESIDENT ABANDONS COURT BATTLE WITH COUNCIL WHICH BACKED DOWN ON TRAFFIC NOISE BARRIERS

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Harlow resident David Bennett has pulled out of a high court legal battle aimed at forcing Harlow DC to install sou...
Harlow resident David Bennett has pulled out of a high court legal battle aimed at forcing Harlow DC to install sound barriers near his home to protect him from traffic noise on the basis that the council will now think afresh on the matter.

Mr Bennett had taken on the council claiming that after initially promising to put up sound barriers to reduce the noise of increased traffic after a local road was widened, they then, wrongly, had a change of heart and backed down on their offer.

The case was scheduled to be heard in London last Friday (2 November, 2001). However, at the 11th hour, the move against the council was withdrawn on the basis of the agreement that had been reached.

Afterwards, a council spokesman said: 'The matter was withdrawn on the basis that the council will re-consider whether or not to build the barrier.'

Mr Bennett was to have asked Mr justice Owen to hold the council to their offer and order them to install the barrier.

He had claimed that the council indicated that it would install the barrier after widening of Second Avenue, Harlow, to make it wide enough to include a cycle lane and an express bus route.

In the light of this he had been set to argue that he and other local residents had what in the eyes of the law should be viewed as 'a legitimate expectation' that the barrier would be provided.

The council, however, claimed at a preliminary high court hearing earlier this year that the road widening had not resulted in any significant increase in noise levels. It argued that in those circumstances there is no justification in putting up the barrier which would cost an estimated pounds sterling 30,000. The decision not to go-ahead with the barrier was taken by the council last December.

Mr Bennett had initially claimed that the about-turn was one that the council is not entitled to make alleging that local residents only agreed to drop objections to the road widening scheme on the basis that the barrier was to be provided.

Had the case gone ahead on Friday he would have sought an order forcing the council to stick to its promise and build the barrier. Failing that he would have sought an order similar to the deal now reached, that the council should be made to re-think the matter.

At the hearing earlier in the year it was alleged that the council had misunderstood or been misled when it reached its decision in December, over the noise reduction effectiveness of the proposed barrier. It is argued that the barrier would result in significant noise reduction.

On that occasion though the court was told that the council claimed it never promised to build a sound barrier, only to hold a consultation on the effect of the road widening scheme on sound levels, and build one only if the noise problem got substantially worse.

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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