A lawyer who sued a village charity over noise from a neighboring playground lost her case after a judge ruled kicking a ball was not a nuisance.
Attorney Marie Sampson was sentenced to pay nearly £ 3,000 in costs after her two-year campaign against the resort area was dismissed.
The mother of two had taken the Brockenhurst Village Trust to court, accusing those who used the playground – located behind her garden – of antisocial behavior, including teaching their young child swear words.
As part of her case, she argued that the sound of balls hitting the fence was a crime.
However, a judge ruled that the noise, while annoying, was “not sufficient” to qualify for a noise protection order.
In a statement in front of a court, Ms. Sampson said: “The sound of balls hitting the wooden frame can be heard internally even when the doors and windows are closed.
“”[When] you’re in the garden and you don’t know it’s coming, you literally jump because the noise is so loud and unexpected. ”
Judge Anthony Callaway denied her claim, saying, “Noise has been defined as ‘unwanted sound’. Sound for one person is noise for another person.
“It is accepted by this court that the presence of the noise can be annoying, but … ‘ball kicking’ seems like a minority event and is insufficient to be a legal nuisance.”
The verdict in Southampton Magistrates Court is the final result of a longstanding feud between Ms. Sampson and the Village Trust.
She has logged over 100 incidents since the £ 63,000 recreational facility opened over two years ago, which she claimed occurred after the set closing time of 8 p.m.
The recreation area, which includes athletic fields and is used by local cubs and brownies groups, opened behind the 44-year-old’s £ 600,000 home after a community fundraiser.
The area was once named Britain’s best place to live, but the trial has created a significant chasm in the historic village’s parish.
Despite several attempts, no out-of-court compromise was reached between the two parties
The two-day case was heard in October that year when Ms. Sampson and her husband Martin filed for a noise control order that the charity was fighting.
In addition to the noise, Ms. Sampson had also complained about antisocial behavior and swearing at the facility – which once led her five-year-old to ask her what the F word meant.
The attorney, who runs her own legal advice, had stated that although she applied for the noise protection order, she did not seek the closure of the Multi Use Games Area (Muga) – and acknowledged that her own children use the playing field.
Instead, she wanted to build special fences around the pitch based on acoustic recommendations and lock the facility at night.
The court heard that the fence would cost the trust £ 35,000 – more than half the original cost of the establishment.
When the facility opened in February 2018, the Trust described it as a “recreational facility that integrates the community through shared enjoyment of sports and social interaction, regardless of age or status.”
Both sides employed sound experts to argue whether the noise violated health guidelines, and Ms. Sampson’s expert provided audio evidence that was recorded in the back of her yard and played in court.
Both sides have also submitted extensive dossiers of statements from neighbors to the court, including a 500-page “bundle” from Ms. Sampson that was deemed “completely irrelevant” to the case.
Regarding these statements, Judge Callaway said in his ruling: “A Dr. Gamble complains that the noise is affecting his ability to work in his home office.
“A Melvyn Watt complains about noise even though the Muga is good for the village, provided it is properly managed.
“A David Burnett lives 40-50 meters from Muga and has been based in Brockenhurst for 21 years.
“He has no problem with the noise generated by the construction site and estimates that the noise from a nearby school is much louder and more frequent.”
Although he ultimately dismissed Ms. Sampson’s case, Judge Callaway suggested that the facility was poorly monitored by the Trust and, as such, may be in breach of the assurances he had given when applying for permission to build the play area.
A statement from the Brockenhurst Village Trust said they were “pleased” that the case had been dismissed, adding, “The trust and its attorneys claim that the case should not have been brought at all.
“There was no evidence to support the claim that the Muga constituted a legal noise nuisance.
“A number of measures have been taken to address the issues raised, such as a high fence to keep balls out of gardens and the installation of a CCTV system for surveillance.
“However, the complainant was still unhappy.”
Although her case was dismissed, Ms. Sampson said she was pleased that Judge Callaway recognized that the Trust was unable to properly monitor the field of play.
She said: “The judge states that the Muga is not being properly administered at the moment. This failure of administration and control continues.
“Although the facility closed due to the second lockdown, there have been 16 instances where I am aware of where users have climbed, entered and used the fence.”
She also said that she knew that another neighbor had filed a complaint launching a noise pollution investigation by Environmental Health, adding, “I don’t doubt that after this investigation is complete, improvements will need to be made to the facility.”
Ms. Sampson was ordered to pay a total of £ 2,947.20 for the trust’s court costs.