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Noise increases due to zoning can be admissible even if they exceed levels that are considered to pose health risks in residential areas

Residents were unsuccessful in their appeal to the Federal Administrative Court with an application for judicial review challenging the validity of the designation of a commercial area in the municipality of Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn

GSK Stockmann successfully defended the municipality Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn before the Federal Administrative Court against an application for judicial review brought by a local citizens’ action group. On 18 December 2017, the Federal Administrative Court issued a court order rejecting the complaint against the non-admission of a further appeal on points of law by the Bavarian Administrative Court in its judgement of 15 March 2017.

The municipality Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn now has legal certainty regarding the development of a new commercial site. The areas in question are located between the suburban railway to Munich and the connecting road to the nearby municipality of Hohenbrunn by Munich. The Bavarian Administrative Court (BayVGH) had already rejected the applications for judicial review submitted against the enacted zon-ing plan in March 2017. This decision has now been confirmed by the Federal Administrative Court.

The tracks of the suburban railway line run between the commercial area and the applicants. The noise protection wall which faces the commercial area leads to minor, inaudible increases in the sound level resulting from the reflection of the railway noise on the noise protection wall towards the residential development. The residential development is already impacted substantially by the railway noise.

At a level of 0.2-0.4 db(A), the reflections of railway noise caused by the noise pro-tection wall are bearable according to the BayVGH, now confirmed by the Federal Administrative Court. While a health-risk level had already been exceeded with the previously existing noise level, the nightly assessment level is 65 db(A) and therefore the plans do not overstep the “health-endangering threshold”.

Similar questions arise each time when existing immission conflicts are reinforced by new plans or are even marginally magnified. In addition, there are often questions regarding the allocation of the noise emissions released in the commercial area, the aggregation of commercial and railway noise. Zoning plans face the challenge of finding an equitable balance between the interests of the residents that are already in place and new types of land use. This is becoming increasingly difficult in densifying conurbations.

Representatives of the local authority Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn:
GSK Stockmann: Dr. Wolfgang Würfel (Lead); Associates: Dr. Christian Kullick (Public Construction, Emission Protection); Kathrin Werner (Public Construction, Conservation).