Lee Faulkner, Principle Acoustics Consultant at REC and a Member of the Institute of Acoustics, provides an expert’s opinion on the recently launched noise guidelines; Professional Practice Guidance (‘ProPG’) on Planning & Noise for New Residential Development.
“ProPG is the result of a joint collaboration between the Institute of Acoustics, the Association of Noise Consultants and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, and at the end of last month, it was launched to support and provide a more holistic approach to acoustic design and management for residential developments. Since the Noise Policy Statement for England was introduced in 2010, a lack of associated guidance has meant there have been profound implications for noise relating to residential developments. Concerns were raised, therefore, around the potential implications on the quality of life of residents within developments where the impacts of noise may not have been fully considered.
The science around noise and vibration is well developed and understood. However, we’ve seen significant variations in the way noise impacts have been interpreted in relation to residential and other types developments. The introduction of the ProPG, along with the guidance of Noise experts, should enable developers to execute a more carefully considered approach towards the noise management process.
Although noise relating to new developments is already a material planning consideration, the ProPG acts as an overarching guidance; collating and providing clarity on existing standards for both external and internal noise criteria and how they should be interpreted in relation to new residential development.
A substantial benefit of the new guidance is in assisting planners and housing developers in site design from an acoustics perspective. This includes mitigation such as ensuring garden areas are buffered by the building envelope, and better orientation of rooms within houses such that living rooms and bedrooms are located on ‘quiet’ facades. The guidance includes for two sequential stages is assessment and design: initial noise risk assessment and a four-element systematic approach including good acoustic design, internal noise levels, external noise levels and other relevant issues.
Ultimately the introduction and application of ProPG means that developers must ensure their site has been designed with acoustics in mind, as part of a wider suite of other stringent disciplines such as drainage and flood risk. Initial Noise Risk Assessments are to be carried out at the outset of a project which will then be used to inform site design and any noise mitigation measures. Following this, an Acoustic Design Statement will be required that complies with the four-stage approach highlighted in the guidance to ensure good acoustic design.
Rather than hampering the progress of a development, ProPG should streamline the planning and development process for the developer and other stakeholders, confirming that noise has been considered properly and to best practice standards. Noise issues will be dealt with earlier in the project, thus hopefully avoiding any delays or issues post submission.
REC has already included elements of ProPG in its detailed Noise Assessments since the draft guidance was issued earlier this year and is further developing its acoustics services to ensure full compliance with ProPG. To assist clients further, REC will be hosting a breakfast briefing in August (more details to follow) to guide developers, planners and LPAs through the new guidance and advise them on any potential impacts to development considerations.”
To download the full ProPG guidelines, click here.