Posted: 16th November 2021
While popular television programmes such as Escape to the Country have inspired a generation of homeowners who desire a rural retreat, some building developments have to be located in noisier areas. The gradual squeeze on suitable land around towns and cities has meant that residential dwellings are increasingly being sited close to sources of noise, such as industrial units, roads, and railways.
When planning a new development, therefore, it’s important to undertake an environmental noise impact assessment to assess the likely impact on future homeowners and implement noise protection planning.
As part of the process for obtaining planning permission for new residential developments, it is likely that the Local Authority will consider the impact of noise from existing sources in the area on future occupants of the dwellings.
What actions can be taken to address the issue of noise when designing new developments? An initial site noise risk assessment will be undertaken in accordance with Stage 1 of ProPG Planning & Noise. If this indicates there is potential for adverse or significant adverse impacts to future residents then a Stage 2 Good Acoustic Design Process should be followed. This nominally considers the following mitigation strategies.
In some scenarios, an engineering solution may be possible to reduce the noise at its source. This is only possible where a new noise source is being introduced or where there is the capacity and budget to relocate or attenuate an existing source of noise as part of a wider development.
For example, if a major housing development is to be constructed close to a busy road, it may be possible to relocate the road to reduce the impact of traffic noise on residents, although clearly this wouldn’t be practical for many developments.
Optimising the distance between the source of noise and the development is key to reducing the impact of noise on residents.
Good site design incorporates many factors including using natural features to act as a sound barrier, using the site layout so that one building provides screening for another, orienting buildings or rooms within buildings so that noise-sensitive rooms face away from dominant noise sources or having dual aspect rooms so windows can be opened on the quieter façade. Other examples of good acoustic design are discussed in ProPG Planning & Noise. An experienced acoustic consultant will consider all appropriate options and develop the most suitable scheme for your development site.
Often, it’s difficult to fully eliminate the noise at source or through the site design and layout and the final element to ensure a good standard of internal sound levels for future residents is to specify the relevant acoustic performance for building façade elements.
This may include acoustic glazing, with an appropriate ventilation strategy to meet Building Regulations standards.
Appointing an acoustic consultant at the earliest stages of the development means they can have input on the site layout. This will reduce the level of sound insulation required by the building façade, with the associated benefits to the cost for lower performance windows and lower likelihood of overheating concerns, meaning it is less likely that mechanical ventilation systems will be required.
At ACA Acoustics, we offer professional noise assessments to support planning applications for residential developments. Considering the acoustic design at an early stage will make sure your development complies with all regulations and can save £000’s in the long run. To find out more, please get in touch on 01793 766324 or send us a message.
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