Sturges, a doctor moved next door to a confectioner, Bridgman, who had produced sweets for sale in his kitchen for many years. The doctor constructed a small shed for the purpose of private practice on the boundary of the two properties. However, the loud noises from the confectioner's industrial mortars and pestles could be clearly heard, disrupting his use and enjoyment of his land and he sought an injunction. The injunction was granted by the lower court and Bridgman appealed.
- Does it matter that the noise was there for an extended period but did not cause a nuisance until recently?
He was accused.
The court finds, in a unanimous decision, that an easement cannot be granted because "a man cannot be said to consent to an action by his neighbour in seeking an easement for an action that he [the neighbour] has no knowledge of, or which he [the neighbour] contests", that is it cannot be said that Sturges had consented prior to his knowledge of the noise.
The court goes on consider the character of the neighbourhood. Here, it is a residential neighbourhood, and a reasonable person would find this type of activity a nuisance in such a neighbourhood. The court holds that if the neighbourhood was known to be industrial, then it is possible that the decision would be different. The court does not want to discourage the development of land for residential purposes.
The character of a neighbourhood matters in determining whether or not an action constitutes a nuisance.