New guide to cut home noise disturbance and annoyance

A new blueprint for acoustic practitioners, council planners and developers that aims to protect home dwellers from noise by putting good acoustic design at the heart of all new residential development has been published today.

The Professional Practice Guidance on Planning & Noise (ProPG) has been produced by the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC), the Institute of Acoustics (IOA) and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).

The three organisations say that if their recommendations are followed early in the planning process:

Good acoustic design will enable homes to be built in some areas previously considered unsuitable because of noise

Noisy sites where residential development will never be suitable can be quickly identified, saving developers time and unnecessary costs

Home building can be started much earlier on sites where noise is not an issue.

In warning that noise exposure can have a wide range of adverse impacts, from increasing the risk of heart disease to affecting children’s school performance, the guidance states: “Noise is a material consideration in the planning process and a key aspect of sustainable development.

“Noise must therefore be given serious attention when new developments might create additional noise and when new developments would be sensitive to prevailing acoustic conditions.”

The guidance says that whilst current Government planning and noise policy and guidance sets clear objectives, it does not prescribe specific numerical acoustics standards and it allows a range of different approaches to be used.

“Good acoustic design is about more than the numbers,” it states. “It is a holistic design process that creates places that are both comfortable and attractive to live in, where acoustics is considered integral to the living environment.

“Good acoustic design can involve, for example, careful site layouts and better orientation of rooms within dwellings. Good acoustic design does not mean ‘gold plating’ or significantly increasing costs. This guidance seeks to encourage and promote design outcomes that are proportionate and reasonable in the particular circumstances of each development site.

“We believe that the approach encouraged by this ProPG will be suitable in the majority of situations likely to be encountered in practice. The use of this guidance will result in a more consistent approach which should help enable the speedier delivery of new homes.”

Jo Webb, IOA President, said: “This guidance is very much welcomed by the IOA who were willing, with other bodies, to sponsor its development and publication. As the main membership organisation with responsibility for acoustics in the UK, we are at the forefront of developing guidance and promoting good acoustic design. This publication delivers on both of those issues.”

Click here to access the guide. Printed copies are available from the Institute at £30 a copy including postage while stocks last. Email publications@ioa.org.uk to request one.