'Woeful underestimation' of value of aural environment

The economic value of the protection and enhancement of our aural environment is 'woefully underestimated', the IOA has told the Government.

In a response to a House of Lords call for evidence for the Select Committee on National Policy for the Built Environment, it said: "The emerging evidence of the social, environmental and economic costs of environmental noise, poor acoustics in buildings, and a failure to use sound positively, highlights the need to prioritise the proper consideration of the acoustic environment as a key component of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and of the future built and natural environment."

Among the Institute's key points are:

* The IOA is concerned at the shift to decentralise policy making. To ensure a sustainable built environment in a more decentralised policy world, robust policies capable of delivering the outcomes needed, and competent authorities to scrutinise and enforce those outcomes, are required.

* There is a need for practitioners in planning, environmental protection and building control departments within local authorities to retain and develop the skills needed to enable them to form good judgements on technical matters.

* The IOA is concerned that there is a significant disconnect between Government departments that implement policy covering the built environment. This will impair the UK's ability to meet Government aims for sustainable development.

* The IOA considers that the NPPF does not provide sufficient guidance for practitioners seeking to manage and protect the acoustic aspects of the built and natural environment.

* The Government should consider forming a policy to encourage re-use of existing buildings, making this the starting point for sustainable development.

* There are poor standards of knowledge and experience across many disciplines central to the built environment in relation to the impact of design on behavioural outcomes.

The Institute's full response can be viewed here.