Planning and Noise Policy – A Collaborative Approach to Planning and Noise or just adding to the Confusion?
Before you submit your planning application, think noise.
What is the local noise environment at your proposed development like?
If noise is likely to be an issue, you should have a pre-application discussion with Planning Services together with a conversation with your acoustic consultant.
So if noise is an issue, who do you go to and how do you know they are proficient; and what are the main drivers behind the implemented planning noise policies?
Well, if you need a noise survey you can find a list of acoustic consultancies here: http://www.association-of-noise-consultants.co.uk/ where you can even search by region, which will hopefully reduce your costs. The successful acoustic consultancy would undertake a noise survey and assessment and provide a report. This report would usually include mitigation measures that typically centre around your proposed facade strategy and plant noise impact associated with the site.
What guidance are these consultancies using? With recent changes in appropriate guidance, it is important that the planning application for your development has the relevant and up to date noise policies behind it.
Firstly, The Noise Policy Statement for England (NPSE)i , published in March 2010, sets out the long-term vision of Government noise policy.
March 2012 saw the introduction of The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)ii . The previous policy and technical advice on planning and noise matters, which was contained in Planning Policy Guidance 24: Planning and Noise (PPG 24)iii became superseded.
The NPPF (through the NPSE) saw new concepts such as ‘LOAEL’ and ‘SOAEL’ to categorise the adverse impact of noise associated with a proposed scheme, and to assist the assessment, management and control of noise via the planning system. We view the NPPF as an overarching scheme and perhaps an easier document for planners and developers but not for acousticians. Why? Well, whilst new policy objectives have been introduced, many acousticians felt that there was a lack of supporting technical advice and guidance. . Noise consultants were left to think, “Where are the numbers? What are the target noise levels to be met?” Government has since advised that it was not intended to provide such technical guidance.
The lack of quantitative guidance meant that Local Planning Authorities were more reliant on their Unitary Development Plan (UDP), with noise aspects handled by their technical staff or with guidance from acoustic consultants. The numeric noise policy vacuum ultimately meant that there was an increased risk that your development may be mistakenly refused, constrained or wrongly approved.
In response to the (ahem!… many) recent changes a steering group consisting of representatives of the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC), Institute of Acoustics (IOA) and Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) was formed. The idea of the collaborative approach being that ‘we are one’: one policy; one guidance, one love… ok, not the last one.
Professional Practice Guidance on Planning and Noise (ProPG: Planning & Noise)iv is now being prepared in response to requests from practitioners for additional technical guidance on the management of noise within the planning system. It is anticipated that it will be published for consultation in late 2015. Currently the initial focus of the ProPG should be on new noise-sensitive development, in particular housing.
iThe Noise Policy Statement for England (NPSE).
ii The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
iii Planning Policy Guidance 24: Planning and Noise (PPG 24).
iv Professional Practice Guidance on Planning and Noise (ProPG: Planning & Noise).