A resident’s noise complaint about play equipment near her home may lead to it being silenced or moved to a completely new location.
Sound cushions have been part of the play area at Croyland Gardens in Wellingborough since it was installed in 2011.
When it was designed, members of the working party wanted the play area to be as interactive as possible so four sound cushions were incorporated in the design.
But after planning permission was granted in 2012 to convert the Avon House building from offices to flats, a noise complaint made by a resident in May this year has prompted Wellingborough Council to investigate.
Environmental protection officers looked into the complaint and were concerned that the noise levels being produced by the stepping stones were ‘loud and very tonal.’
In normal circumstances, the council would serve a noise abatement order, but the authority cannot serve a statutory notice on itself.
Numerous councillors were consulted on a possible solution to the complaint, but the responses were mixed, mainly because the play equipment pre-dated the conversion of Avon House.
But given that environmental protection officers had concluded that noise from the sound cushions was likely to constitute a statutory noise nuisance to local residents, a solution had to be found.
The team carried out further investigations to see the level of impact of the noise from the sound cushions, with monitoring equipment installed in the complainant’s home for several days in September to record and take measurements of noise from the musical stepping stones.
Following this, they said a statutory noise nuisance does exist and their recommendation was for the stepping stones to be silenced or moved to a more suitable location if possible.
As the cushions are designed to make a sound on impact, the play value would be significantly reduced without this feature so alternative locations have been considered, including Croyland Park, the park at Bassett’s Close, Eastfield Park and Castle Fields park.
The original supplier of the equipment has estimated that it would cost £500 to silence the sound cushions or £1,500 to remove and reinstall the sound cushions at an alternative site.
A report due to be considered by members of the council’s services committee next week states: “The committee is invited to resolve to provide officers with a recommendation on the action to be taken and if this is relocation advise officers which park they are located in.”
Councillors will discuss the issue at a meeting starting at 7pm on Monday, December 7, at Swanspool House in Wellingborough.