People living in a Saffron Walden housing development have had their lives "blighted" by a loud, buzzing noise from an electricity substation.

The houses at Bloor Homes' Mortimer's Gate development were completed in 2019, and were constructed around an industrial substation, which according to residents emits a constant loud hum.

To mitigate the noise impact, Bloor Homes installed a wooden fence around the substation, which according to Uttlesford District Council only reduces the noise by five decibels.

Leader of Uttlesford District Council, Cllr Petrina Lees, described the noise nuisance as "appalling" in a letter to the company's owner John Bloor.

Saffron Walden Reporter: Leader of Uttlesford District Council Cllr Petrina LeesLeader of Uttlesford District Council Cllr Petrina Lees (Image: R4U)

Cllr Lees offered to show Mr Bloor around the estate so he can experience the noise disturbance for himself.

She said: "I cannot possibly believe that if you did so you would hesitate to step up and fund the engineering solution necessary to fix this problem – a purpose-built, specially designed roofed structure to surround and overtop the electricity sub-station, and to do the job properly that your company’s porous wooden fence so very clearly does not do."

The council argues that the noise needs to be reduced by a further 18 to 20 decibels to be at a tolerable level for residents.

Resident Jane Sharp said: "Having been advised by UK Power Networks, Bloor Homes knew right from the start that the so-called acoustic fence would not be fit for purpose and yet in order to maximise their profits and having scant regard for residents, particularly social housing tenants where they receive little profit, they went ahead with using a cheaper ineffective option. 

"Legally they did nothing wrong since they complied with the weak planning condition but ethically and morally they have done everything wrong."

In her letter, Cllr Lees added: "What you personally do next over Mortimer’s Gate represents a crossroads for you and your company’s reputation in my district and potentially beyond.


"You will be the hero who rights a manifest wrong, or you will simply be the villain who cannot find a mere crumb of your corporate profits and is content to leave ruined the lives of people who made the mistake of living in homes that carry your name."

A spokesperson for Bloor Homes said: "We acquired the site at Saffron Walden with planning permission already consented (Jan 2017). A subsequent reserve matters permission (Feb 2017) required no further changes, and the site was developed in accordance with the planning permission.

"The outline planning condition relating to the boundary treatment was approved without any issues or concerns raised by either the local authority or UK Power Networks in its capacity as statutory authority. 

"We were completely transparent with our purchasers on the location of the substation, which was there before we took ownership of the site, and we made sure all buyers were aware of the location of the noise source in relation to their potential new home; they were able to inspect the location of their chosen plot in relation to the noise source. 

"We therefore reject that we have in any way deliberately acted against the best interests of our purchasers.

"While we met all the required planning conditions at the time, the noise levels have been retested against current standards and found to be above acceptable standards.

"It has therefore already been recommended to our board to approve the cost of the mitigation when it next meets at the end of September at which point, we will again be discussing the matter with the local authority."