As part of my work on the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC) ‘Acoustics, Ventilation and Overheating Group’ I was able to contribute to the recently released ‘Professional Practice Guidance on Planning and Noise’ (ProPG) document. A guide essential to those involved in acoustics, planning or environmental assessment.
The ProPG document was produced in response to the lack of quantitative government planning guidance on noise affecting new residential development. The previous guidance (Planning Policy Guidance Note 24 : Planning and Noise) was withdrawn in 2012 when the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was implemented. This lack of guidance has meant that the level of protection from noise in new residential dwellings can vary significantly from one new development to the next.
Where not properly considered at the planning stage, noise in dwellings can result in sleep disturbance and reduce people’s ability to relax in their homes. This can impact the health of those affected.
Although it is not official government guidance the new document has been jointly produced by the Institute of Acoustics (IoA), the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and the ANC. It was great to work with people from a range of different backgrounds who all share the same goal.
The aim of the guidance is to help ensure that noise is appropriately and consistently considered at the planning stage. Where noise is not a major issue the guidance aims to minimise ‘red tape’ and facilitate development. However, on noisier sites the document requires more detailed consideration of noise impacts and mitigation measures.
My involvement focussed on the relationship between noise and how ventilation and relief from overheating are provided in new dwellings. Open windows are often used to provide relief from overheating, but this can also result in increased internal noise levels. It is therefore important that thermal comfort and noise are not considered in isolation. My work at Cundall developing acoustically treated passive cooling systems allowed me to provide guidance in this complex area.
One of the key aims was to raise awareness of this issue and ensure that it is considered at an early stage of a project, enabling the most appropriate design solution to be achieved. The guidance assists with this by providing information on how and when this should be assessed.
I believe the ProPG provides useful guidance on planning and noise and wide spread implementation of the document should not only help simplify the development process but also improve the quality of new dwellings, providing better living conditions for residents.