A council has apologised to a resident who accused officers of failing to deal with a complaint about noise coming from a restaurant he lives next door to.

The Watford man said noise coming from refrigerator and air conditioning units was “impacting his standard of living”.

His attempts for Watford Borough Council to tackle the issue ended up in him submitting a complaint about the council to the Local Ombudsman, which has been upheld.

The council has since apologised to the unnamed resident and compensated him £500 after the Ombudsman found the complainant was caused “significant distress” because of the “long periods of time” the issue remained unaddressed.

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The council was first contacted by the resident in December 2020 and officers visited the unidentified restaurant two months later, with noise recording equipment installed a month after.

The council accepted an old unit and a new unit were causing noise issues and agreed to work with the resident and restaurant to find a solution.

Retrospective planning permission was sought in the first quarter of 2021 for the newer unit, which was eventually approved at the second attempt, on the basis noise mitigation measures were met, by the council in February 2022.

But the older unit continued to pose problems for the resident, who was given assurances by the council in August 2021 that an abatement notice would be served. However, the notice was never served because the council could not agree terms with the restaurant, according to the Ombudsman’s report.

It was not until June 2022 that officers were satisfied the new units were in place, that met noise mitigation measures, and the old ones had been removed.

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The failure to resolve noise coming from the older unit appears to have sparked the complaint to the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman acknowledged visits had been made by council officers to the site and that they had worked with both parties to find a solution.

But recognising the resident was left living with a noise nuisance for over a year that the council was aware of, the Ombudsman concluded: “While I can appreciate the council was trying to resolve the issues, there were significant gaps in the council’s actions, which caused long periods of time where the issue was not addressed.”

The full report can be read here.

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