Yesterday we presented a CPD and workshop to the local Environmental Health Protection Departments of Bath and North East Somerset, Mendip, Wiltshire, South Gloucestershire and Stroud. The presentation was on the recently published ProPG: Planning and Noise.
This comprehensive document was released on the 21st June 2017 and was prepared by a Working Group that included representatives of the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC), Institute of Acoustics (IOA), Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and planning practitioners local authorities.
As independent consultants our presentation offered the local authorities a consultants view on the document to Environmental Health Protection Departments and sought their feedback on how we should use and adopt the guidance.
The Professional Practice Guidance on Planning and Noise (ProPG) was produced to provide practitioners with guidance on a recommended approach to the management of noise within the planning system in England.It was produced to fill the gap left by the replacement of the PPG24 guidance with the NPPF, NPSE and NPPG. These documents were released with the introduction of adverse effect levels yet no quantifiable criteria.
The ProPG is intended for assessing the impact of transportation noise on a new residential development, this could be a new build scheme or a change of use. It is not intended for assessing the noise impact of dominant industrial sources of noise, a British Standard 4142:2014 (BS4142) assessment should be produced instead, or transportation noise on other development types. It can be used for sites where industrial and commercial noise contribute but are not dominant in determining the acoustic environment.
The ProPG advocates a two stage approach in the assessment of transportation noise or mixed noise sources.
Stage 1 – an initial noise risk assessment of the proposed development site.
Stage 2 – a systematic consideration of the four key elements:
- Element 1 – demonstrating a “Good Acoustic Design Process”;
- Element 2 – observing “Internal Noise Level Guidelines”;
- Element 3 – “External Amenity Area Noise Assessment”; and
- Element 4 – Consideration of “Other Relevant Issues”
The approach is underpinned by the preparation and delivery of an “Acoustic Design Statement” (ADS). Noise practitioners will then have a choice of one of four possible recommendations to present to the decision maker. In simple terms the choice of recommendation is as follows: “grant without conditions”, “grant with conditions”, “avoid” or “prevent”.
The ProPG process encourages the consideration of noise and its implications at the early stages of a scheme via the use of an initial noise risk assessment of the proposed development site and “Good Acoustic Design”. “Good Acoustic Design” should comprise of:
- Site layout to include barriers, buffer zones. The aim is to to reduce the need for acoustic mitigation throughout. By appointing an acoustician at the early stage their input on the site layout can be beneficial to the design to reduce the need for noise mitigation later on.
- Shielded facades can be naturally ventilated, the development aim is to provide as many naturally ventilated facades as possible without adversely affecting the internal ambient noise levels of the development.
- On Noisy facades the Internal noise level criteria can be achieved with noise mitigation measures.
- All dwelling should be provided with an amenity area (private, communal or public) with levels below the WHO/BS8233 guidelines
This approach does not differ from the process we currently undertake. As part of being an established acoustic consultancy we have been following the process of good acoustic design for all schemes since our inception and are well versed in providing the fundamentals of a ProPG assessment or any other assessment required which considers noise and acoustics.
The consensus at the workshop was that the ProPG reinforces a number of other standards and assessment process, such as British Standard 8233:2014 (BS8233) and World Health Organisations Guidelines on Noise (WHO1999). However the initial noise risk assessment, although helpful in ensuring noise is considered at an early stage the majority of local authorities are more concerned with the final outcomes of assessment to ensure a development is sustainable and residential amenity is not adversely affected.