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What can I do about the noisy restaurant air con outside of my flat?

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My new flat is near a noisy air con unit that keeps me awake at night and I didn’t notice when viewing – can I do anything about it?

  • What steps can be taken to reduce the noise from a neighbouring air con unit?
  • We take a look at whether the noise levels can be reduced or eliminated

I have just bought a flat above a shop in my village and there is a big air conditioning unit on the roof of the restaurant next door.

It is noisy and keeps me awake at night, especially now in the summer, when I have my bedroom window open. 

I didn’t hear it on the viewings, perhaps because I visited when it wasn’t switched on. Is there anything I can do about it? AS

Noisy neighbourL A loud air conditioning unit may be breaking the planning permissions set out (stock image)

Noisy neighbourL A loud air conditioning unit may be breaking the planning permissions set out (stock image)

MailOnline Property expert Myra Butterworth said: It is important to do your research before buying a property – that can include viewings and scoping out an area at different hours of the day. 

But there will often be some things that slip through the net – and this seems like one of them.

It doesn’t mean that you have to give up on trying to have the noise reduced. It is worth continuing to do research to find out the answers to questions such as how long the air conditioning has been there.

The answers to these questions may reveal that the unit is in breach of planning permissions – indeed if this was even granted at all. And if this is the case, it can be reported and, ultimately, stopped.

Martin Gaine, a chartered town planner, replies: From a planning perspective, the first thing to establish is whether the air conditioning unit has planning permission. 

If it does, check exactly what was proposed when the shop made its application so that you can work out whether the restaurant owner carried out the development as approved.

Also check whether the approval of planning permission was subject to any conditions. 

When permission is granted for these kinds of units, it is usually on condition that any noise produced does not exceed a certain number of decibels, that the unit is fitted with some kind of noise muffling system and/or that it is only operated during specified hours.

You can look up planning applications by navigating to your local council’s website and searching the planning database by address or postcode. Contact the planning team for help if you have any difficulty.

If the unit does not have planning permission, you need to establish how long it has been in place. 

If it has been there more than four years – and has not been altered or replaced in that time -, it is likely that it is now too late to take planning enforcement action against it.

However, if it has planning permission but is operating in breach of a planning condition – for example, it is exceeding noise limits set out in the planning approval -, that breach only becomes lawful after 10 years, giving the council’s planning enforcement team a little more time to take action.

Although you have just moved in to your flat, you can work out how long the unit has been there by asking around your new neighbours.

If the unit does not have planning permission or does have permission but is breaching its conditions, and if it is not yet lawful though the passage of time, you should ask your local council’s planning enforcement team to investigate. 

Complaints to planning enforcement are anonymous, so your neighbour will not be told that it came from you.

Planning aside, the council’s environmental health team may also be able to help. 

Excessive noise from a neighbouring property can be considered a statutory nuisance. 

If an environmental health officer determines that the noise is unreasonable and interferes with your enjoyment of your home, a noise abatement noise may be served on the owner/operator of the restaurant, requiring them to discontinue or in some way limit or moderate the noise.

· Martin Gaine is a chartered town planner and author of ‘How to Get Planning Permission – An Insider’s Secrets’

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Grade II listed East Sussex family home with a clock tower can be yours for £2.5million

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A striking property on the south coast with its own clock tower is currently up for grabs for £2.5million.

The Clock House is a Grade II listed building in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex.

It has an impressive clock tower that boasts has four clocks made by B L Vulliamy, the clockmaker to King George III.

The property has been in the same family for more than 30 years and is now being sold by M&W Sales and Lettings.

This unusual property is called the Clock House and it is a Grade II listed building in the East Sussex coastal town of St Leonards-on-Sea

This unusual property is called the Clock House and it is a Grade II listed building in the East Sussex coastal town of St Leonards-on-Sea

The Clock House has an opulent interior with arched doorways and windows framing the views of the surrounding garden

The Clock House has an opulent interior with arched doorways and windows framing the views of the surrounding garden

This living area has a large Tv sitting above a feature fireplace, colourful drape curtains and dark decorative wallpaper

This living area has a large Tv sitting above a feature fireplace, colourful drape curtains and dark decorative wallpaper 

The impressive property was constructed by the architect James Burton and his son Decimus Burton in 1827, who were behind many of the Georgian buildings in London

The impressive property was constructed by the architect James Burton and his son Decimus Burton in 1827, who were behind many of the Georgian buildings in London

The property was one of the first buildings constructed by the architect James Burton and his son Decimus Burton in 1827.

The pair were responsible for many of the historic homes along the South Coast, Tunbridge Wells and London. They were behind much of the building of Georgian London, including being responsible for large areas of Bloomsbury, as well as St John’s Wood and Clapham Common. James also collaborated with John Nash at Regent’s Park.

In 1828, he started building a new season town at St Leonards, based closely on his experiences at Regents Park.

There is a clock tower with four clocks, which were made by B L Vulliamy, the clockmaker to King George III

There is a clock tower with four clocks, which were made by B L Vulliamy, the clockmaker to King George III

There is a multi-coloured tiled floor in the entrance hallway

There are several feature windows at the Clock House

The property has plenty of interesting features, including arched windows and multi-coloured tiled floors in the hallway

This living room has some large dark sofas, a central chandelier, wooden floors and several candle holders

This living room has some large dark sofas, a central chandelier, wooden floors and several candle holders

This hallway has a colourful gold and red wallpaper with coordinating fabric on the sofa as well as dark wooden flooring

This hallway has a colourful gold and red wallpaper with coordinating fabric on the sofa as well as dark wooden flooring

This colourful bedroom has a patterned red wallpaper, red curtains, red window frames and a matching red ceiling

This colourful bedroom has a patterned red wallpaper, red curtains, red window frames and a matching red ceiling 

The Clock House retains many impressive features, including arched gothic doorways and a tiled entrance flooring.

There is an opulent interior, and a landscaped garden outside that includes a bar and dining areas.

It is spread across three floors and is on Maze Hill, overlooking St Leonards Gardens, with views to the sea.

The property has been in the same family for more than 30 years and M&W Sales and Lettings is handling the sale

The property has been in the same family for more than 30 years and M&W Sales and Lettings is handling the sale

The property has an asking price of £2.5million and is only a short walk from the centre of the town of St Leonards-on-Sea

The property has an asking price of £2.5million and is only a short walk from the centre of the town of St Leonards-on-Sea

The property has five bedrooms, with this one including a fireplace and an arched window that includes some stained glass

The property has five bedrooms, with this one including a fireplace and an arched window that includes some stained glass

The property has some ornate features including on the walls of this double bedroom that have been decorated with candles

The property has some ornate features including on the walls of this double bedroom that have been decorated with candles

This bathroom has green and gold wallpaper, white tiles on the floor, a life size statue and an appealing roll top bath

This bathroom has green and gold wallpaper, white tiles on the floor, a life size statue and an appealing roll top bath

The property is only a short walk away is St Leonards town centre, which boasts bars, restaurants, independent galleries and shops on Norman and Kings Road.

The towns’ gardens provide a tranquil setting with a range of plants, trees and wildlife, with the star of the show being a central ornamental pond.

The area has several schools including Battle Abbey School, Claremont, Vinehall and Buckswood.

Outside, there is plenty of space to entertain family and friends, including an outdoor dining area and a large lawn

Outside, there is plenty of space to entertain family and friends, including an outdoor dining area and a large lawn

The outdoor entertaining area includes a firepit and outdoor lights so that gatherings can continue into the evening

The outdoor entertaining area includes a firepit and outdoor lights so that gatherings can continue into the evening

The kitchen has cream wall and base units along with a central island that is tiled and it contains some useful storage

The kitchen has cream wall and base units along with a central island that is tiled and it contains some useful storage

This large double bedroom has monochrome wallpaper, a dark wooden flooring and some furnishings providing a pink accent

This large double bedroom has monochrome wallpaper, a dark wooden flooring and some furnishings providing a pink accent

The average price of a price sold in St Leonards during the past year is £291,265, which is just under the £312,201 average for the country as a whole, according to Zoopla.

Helen Whiteley, of property website OnTheMarket, said: ‘Properties like this don’t come to the market too often, so when they do it’s an opportunity to own something really special.

‘As well as a magnificent history dating back almost 200 years, with its original charm and unique interior, this clock house has a level of grandeur that remains as impressive today as it would have been when first constructed.’

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Greige is the new hot colour for your home – here’s how to follow the trend

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Neither beige, nor grey — it’s ‘greige’. And you may have noticed the colour is gracing walls, floors and furnishings this year.

The combination of warmth and elegance offered by the tone can create a soothing yet dynamic space and is now a go-to neutral.

The key is to use it as an anchoring palette — a springboard for other, confident colours within your scheme.

Boldly neutral: A bathroom painted in greige tones from Little Greene. Greige can ground a space and counter potential garishness

Boldly neutral: A bathroom painted in greige tones from Little Greene. Greige can ground a space and counter potential garishness

‘Greige is often used as a safe colour, layered with other neutrals, but I like to use it to provide balance,’ says interior designer Rachel Niddrie. 

‘Try it as a backdrop or woven into a scheme to showcase bold textures, pattern and colour — on vibrant rugs, artwork and accessories.’

Combined with contrasting materials, greige can ground a space and counter potential garishness.

‘It works beautifully with dusky pinks as well as royal blues, teals, lime green and navy,’ says Rachel.

‘One of my favourite fabrics is No. 9 Thompson’s Ninfea Mania in Blush or Royal. Featuring painterly lilies on a loose weave, it can be used for curtains, sofas and chairs. The Blush has a greenish-grey in the pattern and a pearl oyster background that perfectly tones with greige.’

Add glamour

The shade is versatile, too, offering several decorative directions. ‘Monochrome accents add eye-catching detail, while metallic accessories will introduce understated glamour and bring warmth to the overall look,’ says Amanda Huber, founder of The Dining Chair Co.

‘If you are more daring, why not complement a neutral backdrop with beautiful printed linen upholstery on sofas or dining chairs? You can pick accent colours from the print and introduce them elsewhere to add energy to the scheme.’

Getting just the right shade of greige requires a considered eye.

‘As with any neutral or white, whether it is warm or cool, depends on underlying hints of warm pink or cool blue,’ says Justyna Korczynska, senior designer at Crown. ‘Red tones elsewhere in your scheme can be complemented with a warm grey-beige, while cooler blues, deep greys and greens work with a cooler grey.’

Also, the light in the UK can seem flat, which affects our perception of colour.

‘Natural light can be limited in homes, making us crave something warmer than a straightforward grey,’ says Helen Shaw of Benjamin Moore. ‘Our Revere-Pewter (HC-172) is a classic warm grey that co-ordinates with more natural greys like steel, concrete, glass, pebbles, driftwood — even cloudy skies.’

There are many ways to make this classic tone contemporary. ‘One of my top tips is to pair greige with raw plastered walls,’ says Space Shack’s Omar Bhatti. ‘This produces a lovely combination of soft colour and contrasting texture, which adds character.’

Mix it up

‘Don’t be afraid to mix materials,’ says Collection Noir’s Samantha Wilson. ‘Timber looks beautiful when accompanied with limewashed walls, occasional metal details, soft linens and textured ceramics.’

All these elements are a softly modern way to work a classic greige. Bear in mind some of the most beautifully balanced and welcoming interiors are based on a subtle palette of beiges and greys.

Texture: Sofa.com’s Ginger armchairs in Champagne luxe boucle costs £1,045

Texture: Sofa.com’s Ginger armchairs in Champagne luxe boucle costs £1,045

‘The key is to layer and to remember that ‘neutral’ extends far beyond creams and sandy hues,’ advises King Living’s design studio. ‘It also incorporates olive, earth tones, red-based hues and deeper browns — all of which pair with a beige-grey base to create a timeless scheme.’

Avoid a flat finish, instead opt for unexpected texture. Try sofa.com’s Ginger armchairs in Champagne luxe boucle (pictured), £1,045.

Pooky’s Empire gathered lampshades in Flashman printed cotton, £56, add elegance.

Bring greige walls to life with Carpetright’s Mardi Gras 576 Estrella Vinyl. The encaustic tile-style flooring works beautifully in otherwise neutral utility rooms. 

A graphic rug such as H&M Home’s Patterned Pile rug, £149.99 peps up a greige sitting room, too.

Calming vibe

The desire for warm, zen-like spaces is growing, making greige both a lifestyle and design choice.

Omar Bhatti has painted his apartment in Little Greene’s Mushroom. ‘I used it on wall, doors, architraves and skirting and combined it with deep blue kitchen cabinetry,’ he says. ‘It is very calming.’

Combined with natural fibres, timbers and earthy colours, it creates a sense of balance and understated luxury.

‘The look is easily achieved,’ says Samantha Wilson. ‘Whether you accessorise with woven planters or linen cushions, throws, tablecloths, or jute and flatweave rugs.’

Versatility is key to this — it works just as well with earthy tones as jewel hues, but it always contributes to a timeless, cocooning interior. Just what many of us crave.

Savings of the week! Leaning mirror

Light on the wallet: Dunelm offers the Moroccan mirror for £105

Light on the wallet: Dunelm offers the Moroccan mirror for £105

A long, leaning mirror has several key benefits. It makes any room look larger, optimises the light and requires no DIY skills: you simply prop it against the wall. Do so carefully and you will look slimmer and more lissom.

Snapping up a bargain will enhance your feeling of wellbeing. At Dunelm, there are styles for every decor, reduced by 30 per cent, including the gilt-framed Midi (£42), the Moroccan (£105) and the Apartment (£91), which has a loft-living vibe.

The Range also has a wide selection, such as the Regency whose price has been cut by 20 per cent to £87.99; its ornate gilt frame is very Bridgerton.

Cotswold Company offers an arched mirror in a moody black frame, down from £179 to £149.

Rose & Grey has a large black Art Deco mirror, reduced from £595 to £505.75, which would look good in a 1930s house, and a black paned mirror that’s now £191.25, down from £225, which could be deployed in the garden.

Anne Ashworth 

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Birmingham’s property market boosted by the Commonwealth Games

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The huge, bold mechanical bull that roared into the Birmingham arena at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games could be a suitable metaphor for the city’s property scene.

‘There are so many positive things that have ridden on the back of the Games taking place here,’ says Andrew Oulsnam, director of Robert Oulsnam and Company, and the owner of 11 estate agencies around the city.

‘We’re seeing lots of increased investment, with prices rising substantially over the past year and a half. The Games have given us a “feelgood factor” which I am sure will spread beyond the event itself.’

Onto a winner: Birmingham's Victoria Square before the Games. Properties in the City are 60% lower than those in London

Onto a winner: Birmingham’s Victoria Square before the Games. Properties in the City are 60% lower than those in London

Warming to his theme, he says: ‘Even now, in August, there is a change; more interest from buyers — when traditionally, the summer months are not the best time for the property market. I’m optimistic about the future.’

The shift in Birmingham’s fortunes started with the proposals for the HS2 project, which, when completed in 2033, will cut journey times to London to under an hour. This encouraged large companies such as HSBC, which has moved its UK headquarters to the city.

Since then, PwC and Goldman Sachs have followed.

International estate agents are selling properties abroad, while at the same time several infrastructure projects have transformed Birmingham into a safe, energetic and culturally diverse city — and a young one, with under-25s accounting for nearly 40 per cent of the population.

This has added to the vibrancy, and the reason why many emerging industries such as technology innovation and life sciences have started up. It is also a shoppers’ city, with 1,000 retail outlets within a 20-minute walk of the centre.

And then there are the prices. Properties in Birmingham cost 60 per cent less than those in London.

 Universally now, living in Birmingham is seen in a positive light

Estate agent Philip Jackson 

‘The pandemic meant many people working from home appreciated the importance of having some outside space,’ says Lynda Williams, branch manager at Kings Heath estate agency.

‘I have clients who moved from London, selling their small flats for typically £500,000 and getting a lovely Victorian house and garden with original features, for the same money here.’

Philip Jackson, director of Maguire Jackson, deals with city centre properties and has seen the positive impact of the Games.

‘There is no doubt that the extra attention focused on Birmingham is helping the property market.

‘The Commonwealth Games, bringing 72 teams from all over the world, is a nice step on the HS2 journey,’ he says.

‘Rental prices over the past 12 months have increased by five to ten per cent, and universally now, living in Birmingham is seen in a positive light.’

He says the famous Jewellery Quarter is like Clerkenwell in central London 20 years ago, with controlled conservation of historical buildings, giving residential property an interesting vibe.

Intriguingly, too, this is where all the medals for the Commonwealth Games were made. Philip says the typical renter is a contract worker aged 25 to 35.

At the same time, the sales market is also steadily growing inside the Jewellery Quarter, where modern warehouse conversions of one-bedroom flats are going for £185-£200,000 and two bedrooms from £220,000 to £500,000.

Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, is naturally proud of the enthusiasm and the success the Games have brought. 

One of the legacies is 1,000 new homes being built in the north of the city at Perry Barr, next to the main stadium.

‘It has cost us £184 million to put on the Games and the Government matched it three times. Now, we have levered a billion pounds of investment into the city on the back of that,’ says Mr Ward. ‘We couldn’t afford not to have them.’

On the market… in our second city 

Wharfside Street: This two bedroom penthouse is in the city centre. There is access to a residents’ gym and the building has private parking. n Fineandcountry.com, 0121 272 600 £400,000

Wharfside Street: This two bedroom penthouse is in the city centre. There is access to a residents’ gym and the building has private parking. n Fineandcountry.com, 0121 272 600 £400,000

H0dge Hill: There are three bedrooms in this semi-detached home, on the outskirts of Birmingham, which also has a conservatory and a garage. n Shipways.co.uk, 01217 210 563. £230, 000

H0dge Hill: There are three bedrooms in this semi-detached home, on the outskirts of Birmingham, which also has a conservatory and a garage. n Shipways.co.uk, 01217 210 563. £230, 000

 

Wychall Road: Following a complete renovation, this three bedroom detached house has a newly fitted kitchen/diner, bathroom and off-road parking. n Ardenestates.co.uk, 01217 217 734. £299,950

Wychall Road: Following a complete renovation, this three bedroom detached house has a newly fitted kitchen/diner, bathroom and off-road parking. n Ardenestates.co.uk, 01217 217 734. £299,950

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