A couple who waged a lengthy legal battle over noise from a motor sports stadium near their former home in West Row have won a ruling from the Supreme Court that it is a ‘nuisance’.
The owner of Mildenhall Stadium has expressed concerns that if the venue is ordered to pay ‘staggering’ court costs the effect could be devastating.
The highest court in the land granted the appeal by Katherine Lawrence and Raymond Shields to claw back compensation awarded to them in the High Court in 2011, but later revoked in the Appeal Court.
The couple claimed to have no idea, when they bought their home at Fenland, Cooks Drove, West Row, that it was just 560m from Mildenhall Stadium, home to the successful Fen Tigers speedway team.
Joint-owner of Mildenhall Stadium, Dave Coventry, said: “It was not the result we expected having won the appeal court. We are trying to make sense of what’s happened and see what the consequences are.
“At the moment the judges have not made a costs order as far as we are concerned it will be business as usual for as long as we can. But the costs in this case are absolutely staggering and if they had to be paid in full there’s no hope.” Mr Coventry said costs from the High Court case alone had amounted to about £1 million.
As well having their claim to more than £20,000 in damages from the operators of motor sports at the stadium, restored the couple will also be entitled to an injunction restricting activities at the stadium once their home is rebuilt.
The property was destroyed by fire in June 2010, four years after they moved in.
Ms Lawrence said: “I’m very pleased that the highest court in the land has unanimously upheld our appeal. It’s been a long battle and I’m sorry it’s come to this.
“We were never looking for the stadium to close down we wanted them to behave within planning permissions and operate accordingly and fairly.”
Ms Lawrence said that noise from events held at the stadium on evenings and weekends between April and November made life at Fenland ‘impossible’.
Solicitor Richard Buxton, of Richard Buxton Solicitors, who represents Ms Lawrence, said: “It was a terrible noise nuisance and they were very badly affected, the whole situation was very unfortunate.
“We are pleased that the court has definitively said that there was a noise nuisance and now it’s a resolving the problem on the ground. Resolving the problem in a sensible way.”
Lord Neuberger, giving the Supreme Court’s main ruling, said: “There is no question of the respondents being able to rely on the fact that the appellants came to the nuisance, or any other similar argument.
“The appellants used their property, Fenland, as a residence, which was the same purpose to which it had been put ever since before the activities currently carried on at the stadium and the track had started.”
A judge will look at what noise restrictions will be implemented if Fenland if rebuilt. Mr Coventry said these could have a dramatic effect on the events that can be held at the stadium, which has hosted motor sports since 1975.
Chairman of Mildenhall Fen Tigers, Kevin Jolly, said: “This is obviously a big disappointment for the Stadium Owners who had hoped today would bring an end to this matter and remove a cloud that has been hanging over the stadium before we took over the running of the Fen Tigers. It now remains an ongoing case that will now go through the courts once again.
“However, as far as we are concerned nothing changes with regard to Mildenhall Speedway and we will continue to run until it is no longer possible should that day ever arrive.”