Dream home ‘ruined by noise nuisance choppers’
Millionaire homeowner is seeking £700,000 in compensation from aerodrome
Norman Peires and his wife Lorna claim the nightmare din of chopper blades coming from a nearby aerodrome has blighted their happiness and are now claiming £700,000 damages.
The couple ploughed £1.5million into revamping Shepherds Holt, a sixbedroom mansion in Denham soon after they bought it in 2006.
And Mrs Peires, 69, told the High Court: “We made that house exactly the way we wanted it. We wanted to live there for ever”.
But their dreams soured when relaxing in the garden and afternoon tennis parties had to compete with the roar of helicopters from nearby Denham Aerodrome, the court heard.
The couple ended up putting Shepherd’s Holt on the market as the noise was ‘driving us crazy’, said Mrs Peires, who once took flying lessons at the aerodrome.
And now the couple are suing the owners of the 100-year-old airfield, Bickerton’s Aerodrome Ltd, claiming they’ve not done enough to curtail the racket. They want a court order restricting the noise – or £700,000 compensation for the loss of their home’s value if that cannot be done. The ‘loud drumming and shattering’ penetrates into the drawing room and master bedroom even with the double-glazed windows shut, the couple say. And, when outside in their home’s ‘extensive grounds’, the racket becomes ‘incredible’.
Their barrister, Edward Denehan, said they had no quarrel with ‘general’ aviation use of the airfield, which they accept as a fact of life. But their complaints are focused on helicopter manoeuvres which occur on a special training ‘slope’ close by their 2.5-acre garden. Mr Peires, also 69, said normal aircraft noise and even the sound of the M25 motorway blurred into the background. But the choppers’ unpredictable ‘hovering and ‘360’s’ simply could not be blotted out.
“It becomes a situation where you don’t hear any of the other things going on – just this activity.
“You have some peace and then you have this shattering noise – it’s not like the smooth sound of a Triumph motorbike.”
Although the couple wanted to live out their days at Shepherd’s Holt, the court heard the noise drove them to put it up for sale just five years after they bought it. Estate agents initially suggested a £4 million price tag but Mr and Mrs Peires claim buyers were repeatedly deterred by the intrusive howl of helicopters.
Tess Daly and Vernon Kay had been very keen on buying the property – until they stepped out into the garden, said Mr Peires.
The celebrity couple were “left horrified by the noise” during their second viewing and were visibly shocked, the court heard.
“Tess Daly said later that they loved our house but that they couldn’t live with those helicopters”, Mr Peires added. Another thwarted potential buyer was TV sports broadcaster, Gabby Logan.
Mr Peires said he and his wife had vacated the house so it could be empty for her visit.
But Mrs Logan pulled out of the viewing and Mr Peires said: “My wife told me she wasn’t coming because she’d got to the gate and was put off by the noise”.
He added: “The only ones who were really interested were put off by the helicopters. We decided to stop selling it in the end because it was a lost cause.”
Mr Peires, who made his fortune in the travel industry, said they ended up letting Shepherd’s Holt between 2013 and 2015.
And added: “Our main request of the court is to help us live in peace,” he added.
QC, Richard Harwood, asked Mr Peires about a June 2013 incident in which he allegedly rang up the airfield and ‘shouted’ at the duty officer to ‘remove’ a helicopter.
Mr Peires explained: “I was probably in the middle of a game of tennis, we were probably embarrassed, with our friends having come to play and not being able to hear anything”.
The QC accused Mr Peires of being ‘rather arrogant’, claiming he tried to get helicopter flying schedules changed to suit his convenience.
“I don’t agree,” countered the pensioner. “I try to be courteous, but there are times when I become agitated because I don’t feel I’m being taken seriously, or that I’m being made a fool of.”
Much of the dispute in the case boils down to the timing of chopper manoeuvres – with Mr and Mrs Peires claiming their peace is regularly disturbed for up to half-anhour at a time.
However, Mr Harwood insisted that helicopter training flights from the aerodrome had been greatly reduced in recent years. Choppers only use the training slope so that pilots can practise taking off and landing, he said.
“This exercise is carried out on average approximately 1.5 times a week and is limited to less than 10 minutes each time,” he told the judge.
A judgment is expected to be made next month.
Vernon Kay and Tess Daly