Back when I was still studying at university, the time came to find a place to live for the new academic year. I’d like to think I was lucky to find a nice house that had pretty much everything a student could wish for; with a jacuzzi bath and a TV big enough for a private cinema showing being an advantage.
So where was the downside? That would be the location.
You see, the house that I called ‘home’ for two years was a stones throw from Deepdale, home of Preston North End FC – then playing in the second tier of English football and attracting a decent following to their home games as they attempted to join the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool in the Premiership.
When I first went to the view the property, I couldn’t help but notice the fact that the football stadium was there so it was clear that when match days arrived, I could expect to have to deal with extra traffic and noise from the crowd. It wasn’t exactly a shock then, that the first time Preston were playing at home, there were cars parked all over the street and you could hear fans chanting from inside the stadium.
It’s a bit like where I live now. When I bought my house, I knew that there was a Motocross track across the field outside the back garden. Once again, I wasn’t surprised to then hear the noise of a motorbike on a Sunday afternoon during the summer when racing was on.
So what is my point?
On neither occasion did I sit there and think ‘I’m not having this – I think I need to go and have a word’. It could be a nothing other than a complete pain in the arse to go into town when I still lived in Preston and then come home to find I couldn’t park within a mile of my house because of fans watching the football, but it was something I had to deal with. I chose to move into a house next to the football stadium, so I knew I’d have to deal with any negative aspects that there were.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the attitude some people take when it comes to motorsport, which is why a court judgement this week was of particular interest.
You might have seen the story HERE.
In short, a couple moved into a house ‘unaware’ that a Speedway stadium was 500 yards away – and then won £20,000 in damages when they sued over the noise. After an appeal court hearing, the initial ruling has now been overturned, leaving the couple involved facing a bill of £85,000 in interim legal costs but giving a victory to those who are simply trying to make a living from running a successful venue.
The reaction from one of the judges involved is of particular interest, and gives an interesting viewpoint that others would do well to follow – particularly where motorsport is involved.
“The outcome of this litigation will be a disaster for the claimants, a fact which I regret,” Lord Justice Jackson said. “On the other hand, their predicament is a consequence of their decision to purchase a house in an area where motor sports were an established activity.
“The noise of motor sports emanating from the track are an established part of the character of the locality.”
And therein lies the key point.
“Their predicament is a consequence of their decision to purchase a house in an area where motor sports were an established activity.”
If you look at any motorsport circuit in the UK, chances are there will be some kind of restriction in place. That might be a curfew at a set time where circuit activities have to come to an end, or it might be a restriction that states that the circuit can only be used on a certain number of days.
In some cases, there are legitimate reasons why such restrictions are in place, but on other occasions, it is a case of NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) having their say.
There have been stories of people complaining about the noise from certain circuits in the UK on days when there hasn’t actually been any track activities taking place – which in turn has done little to help their arguments.
But in other cases – such as Croft in recent years – we’ve seen circuits restricted because of complaints from people who have moved to an area well aware that there is already an established racing venue in place.
If you have lived somewhere for 50 years and suddenly a race circuit was built on your doorstep, then fair enough – you might have reason to be a tad annoyed by the noise and traffic.
But you can’t move into a home near a race track – or a football stadium, or an airport – and then make a complaint about the noise. You’ve made your choice and you have to live with it.
I have raised the point in the past with someone who I knew lived near to a circuit and their reaction was interesting.
They admitted that when a major event was on, it was a nuisance dealing with the extra traffic and that the noise wasn’t ideal. But they also accepted that it wasn’t every day, and that the financial benefits to the area from people visiting for a race meeting outweighed the negatives.
Sadly, it isn’t a view shared by everyone who lives within a stones throw of our UK circuits but hopefully the decision taken by the appeal court won’t only be a victory for the Mildenhall Stadium, but also for common sense.
If you don’t want noise to disturb you in your new pad, don’t buy a house next to a race track, stadium or airport.
Or does that make too much sense?