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Preparing a noise assessment for a planning application

Find out when you need to consider noise for a planning application, and what the requirements are.

The planning system plays an important role in helping to protect the environment.

Controls incorporated into the design of a development are more economic than corrective works at a later date.

When is noise a consideration for planning?

The situations where noise and vibration can be material considerations for planning applications are:

  • development or change of use likely to generate noise and vibration close to existing noise-sensitive premises

  • noise and vibration-sensitive developments close to existing noise-generating premises or sources of high ambient noise e.g. busy roads or railways

  • changes to existing processes: plant, equipment, hours of working etc.

We aim to minimise exposure to noise levels that are likely to affect health and wellbeing.

Careful design of buildings and the way in which they are serviced by vehicles can do much to reduce noise disturbance. Incorporating materials and features to reduce the impact of noise on the immediate surroundings of buildings as well as between different users within buildings can help.

Conditions will be used to limit hours of operation, to provide protection for noise-sensitive developments, particularly at night. All available powers will be used to minimise and contain noise. In most instances development will be unacceptable if it leads to a significant increase in noise levels.

Applications for commercial developments

You should supply details of any external plant or machinery to be used (air conditioning units or extraction equipment). This should show the noise levels emitted from the machinery in the form of a frequency analysis.

When demonstrating the noise levels at the façade of the nearest noise-sensitive premises you should do this in accordance with the methodology in BS 4142: 2014 ‘Rating industrial noise affecting mixed residential and industrial areas’.

If it is intended to play amplified music or introduce internal plant or machinery, a scheme to insulate the premises so that noise break-out will not cause a disturbance to neighbouring premises will be required.

Developers of any pub/club or entertainment premises should ensure that they conform to any licensing requirements.

It is unlikely that the servicing of commercial premises by delivery vehicles and waste collection vehicles outside the hours of 11pm–7am will be permitted.

Where any of the measures above would affect the fabric of the building or its appearance, these will need careful consideration in terms of requirements under planning legislation, particularly where the building is in a conservation area and/or is listed.

To meet requirements a rating level of the noise emitted from the premises/plant on site should be 5dB below the existing background level at any time, in accordance with the BS4142 methodology.

Applications for residential developments

Residential developments that will be exposed to high levels of existing noise will require design features and sound insulation to protect residents from external noise. These should be designed to meet the following WHO guidelines levels in all residential developments:

  • Indoors, daytime: 35dB LAeq16hr, to prevent interference of speech and moderate annoyance.

  • Inside bedrooms, night time: 30dB LAeq8hr / 45dB LAmax to prevent sleep disturbance.

  • External amenity areas not exceeding 55 dB LAeq (day)

  • Also the evaluation of human exposure to vibration within the building shall not exceed the vibration dose values criteria ‘low probability of adverse comment’ as defined BS6472.

You must incorporate sound insulation standards which are at least that specified in the current Building Regulation part E ‘Resistance to the passage of sound’.

Where the development shares a party wall with a commercial premises a higher standard is required. You should seek professional advice from an acoustic consultant to ensure adequate sound insulation is programmed within the design scheme.

To meet the requirements, sound insulation against airborne noise should meet D'nT,w + Ctr dB of not less than 55 for walls and/or ceilings where residential parties non-domestic use, in accordance with BS EN ISO 140-4:1998.

All noise assessments should be carried out by an acoustic consultant.