Applying to both indoor and outdoor areas, a noise assessment or noise survey is a category of assessment similar to the main types of surveys for planning such as bat surveys, topographical surveys and other inspections. Noise assessments, however, specifically target the current or future sound environment, analysing any situation whereby the excessive noise levels in existing areas could impact a new development or a proposed development could generate noise, causing unwanted sound in the local area.
A similarity between a noise survey and other surveys designed to appease the local authorities is that evidence from them contributes heavily to planning applications. A common component within the planning system, it is vital that they aren’t mistaken for other forms of assessments, as noise surveys can also be undertaken as a type of work survey or occupational noise assessment for a working environment or entertainment premises to ensure compliance with noise at work regulations or noise nuisance rules.
When is a Noise Assessment Required?
Whenever a development site features a presence of certain elements, a detailed review from a professional service is required, such as an arboricultural survey for trees or a reptile survey for reptiles. Planning projects can both cause and suffer from a wide range of excess noise, including background noise, environmental noise, construction noise, industrial noise, temporary noise, commercial noise, occupational noise and workplace noise.
Any time a development has the ability to raise the sound level or damage the noise character of a location, noise surveys will provide recommendations and next steps to initiate noise reduction and elimination. Likewise, if a development is expected to be adversely affected by the levels of noise from each noise source in the surrounding vicinity, it will also be applicable to organise a noise survey to measure noise impact and ensure acceptable noise levels for current and future occupants.
Noise Survey for Planning
As well as the many other benefits that come from booking surveys to support planning decisions, the overall aim of a noise survey is to demonstrate to the local authority that an efficient service has been carried out by a licensed team of acoustic consultants. It will then be possible to pass on the necessary evidence to the planning officer and simplify the decision to grant planning permission.
It could be that a developer recognises a potential need for a noise survey based on how the development could trigger exposure to noise or be exposed to noise in the local environment, or the local planning authority could insist on receiving proof that a noise survey was conducted. Whatever the case, it will only be realistically viable to see a successful planning application through the acquisition of an in-depth noise survey report.
In the fundamental design phase of any new proposed development, a number of factors are considered, such as but not exclusive to accessibility, dimensions, layout, lighting, location, materials, plumbing and wiring. Different aspects also include efficiency and sustainability, with the integration of green infrastructure, the utilisation of renewable energy and regard for environmental health in development emerging as relatively new components in design.
One of the most important elements in all commercial developments and residential developments is noise and the sound environment, both inside and outside of the building. With the help of acoustic consultants, architects are required to acknowledge the status quo of noise in the building once it has been built and filter matters affecting sound level into their development plans.
What Does Acoustic Design Mean?
The term acoustic design is attributed to organising adequate planning to ensure that sound moves around a building correctly under the relevant noise standards. It covers all angles in regard to the control of noise, from integrating sound insulation to prevent noise exposure inside the building from the background noise level outside, to implementing noise control measures to prevent high noise levels outside the building from significant adverse effects caused by noise pollution.
It is only natural that soundwaves will rebound within the walls of a building, just as they would on the outside walls as a result of local noise emissions or at different times during especially heavy rain. Without efforts to deal with high levels of sound accordingly and reduce noise pollution both to and from a building, any time the decibel level increases, spectral content peaks and diurnal variations fluctuate, it would be likely to cause a noise nuisance, trigger an environmental impact, and affect health in nearby receptors.
Why Acoustical Design is Important in Building Design
Before building services begin, a risk assessment of noise impact is crucial, as it will offer assurances over the noise levels within commercial or residential dwellings. By predicting the noise impact caused by a development or subjected to a development, predicted noise measurements can make it far easier to avoid a noise problem in a commercial building or a residential house.
It has also been proven that the sound environment can be a health and safety matter, with noise nuisance impacting the mental and physical health of individuals within an area of existing noise. For example, without proper hearing protection, drastic noise levels can cause noise-induced hearing loss, and it has also been known to heighten anxiety and irritation, increase blood pressure, and reduce pain tolerance and sleep. As a result, individuals affected by noise nuisance may need to consider hearing tests or a health screening.
UK Noise Laws
Replacing the DoE Circular 10/73, the government released a Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) note in September 1994 named ‘Planning and Noise‘ (PPG23) that outlines how imposed noise conditions allow the local authorities to base planning decisions on noise impact. Section 15 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) titled conserving and enhancing the natural environment also references how noise pollution – along with air, soil and water – could put different aspects of a development at risk.
Multiple UK laws mention the impact of noise on planning, such as in the Control of Pollution Act 1974 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA), and outside of planning, in the Road Traffic Act 1972, the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use Regulations) 1986 and Firework Regulations 2004. Specific guidelines for neighbour noise, neighbourhood noise and environmental noise are then explained in further detail in the Noise Policy Statement for England (NPSE).
All assessments that are designed to assist with planning applications are available in a selection of formats to meet a broad range of needs, with numerous noise surveys for developers that require a risk assessment over the levels of noise on their development site or within their building.
Below are the primary types of noise assessments for planning known as BS 4142 assessments, BS 8233 assessments and noise impact assessments:
BS 4142 Assessment
Through a rating level, the noise impact is analysed, but with the context of examining the level of disturbance in relation to the pre-existing background noise environment. Primarily surrounding industry sectors, all industrial and commercial noise sources are considered, including air conditioning units, the dawn chorus or temporary noise from boiler flues, vehicles and any other features that could have significant adverse effects on the levels of noise.
BS 8233 Assessment
Consisting of noise monitoring and noise modelling for transport and other existing noise sources in the local environment, background noise is recorded as spot measurements to facilitate necessary changes to sound design. Common for many types of residential development, a noise measurement will be taken at day and night for each room within a building, allowing for bespoke solutions based on the unique circumstances.
Noise Impact Assessment
Using sophisticated sound-measuring equipment such as external environmental microphones and low-noise microphones, a detailed review of the area’s noise levels will be determined before introducing likely changes from each noise source that will remedy the overall noise impact. It may be applicable to recommend leaving equipment for several days as a method of gathering accurate data, particularly in the case of especially noise-sensitive premises.
Other Noise Surveys
Away from noise surveys for development, other assessments involving noise impact include a noise and vibration survey or construction noise assessments for construction site noise, and an occupational noise survey or noise at work assessments for workplace noise.
Find other forms of noise surveys listed below:
- Background noise surveys
- Construction noise surveys
- Environmental noise surveys
- Industrial noise surveys
- Noise and vibration surveys
- Noise exposure assessments
- Noise hazard assessments
- Noise level assessments
- Noise pollution assessments
- Noise risk assessments
- Occupational noise surveys
- Workplace noise assessments
Noise Assessment Report
After any and all noise surveys for planning, either the measurement taken from the site regarding existing noise or the predicted noise levels based on the development plans that will gauge the eventual sound environment will be recorded and analysed. From there, the noise assessment consultant can assemble mitigation measures to deal with the potentially adverse effects of noise to or from the proposed development.
Every detail from the noise assessments will be displayed within a report. A noise survey report holds importance in the planning system because it is seen as a valuable document in the eyes of the local authority. Upon completion, the noise report can be passed on to the local planning authority, and through all information contained within it, the report should be sufficiently detailed to give the planning officer everything needed to approve a planning application.
Arrange a Noise Assessment
Commercial developments that are likely to generate noise, residential developments that are susceptible to high levels of noise in the surrounding area and all noise-sensitive developments would benefit from noise surveys. Although we don’t conduct assessments ourselves, the role we play in planning has led us to growing reliable contacts, including a highly recommended noise assessment team.
Offering coverage to all major cities, towns and villages all over the country, the acoustic consultants we work with possess extensive experience in conducting noise surveys at a competitive price and under the relevant British standards, including a BS 4142 assessment, BS 8233 assessment and noise impact assessment. Under their guidance, any potential issues relating to noise complaints from the local council can be identified and eliminated.
To schedule a site visit on your development site, send across your details to us, and we will pass you on to the consultancy we work with for a noise survey. You can do this via our contact page, and at this point, all we ask is that you give us as much information as possible so the free quote we send to you is accurate. As soon as we receive the green light from you, we can then determine a desirable time to visit your site for the necessary noise assessments.