Up until 2012 potential residential development sites were assessed relative to PPG24. Planning policy guideline PPG24 previously provided Noise Exposure Categories (NEC’s) to assist local planning authorities in assessing new residential developments alongside existing transport related noise sources (road traffic, railway & aircraft noise. The categories A to D defined noise level ranges for different noise sources.
Category A represented circumstances in which noise need not be considered a determining factor; category B applied to the situation where noise should be taken into account; category C covered noise levels where planning permission should not normally be granted and category D was for planning permission refusal.
Planning Policy Guidance documents, including PPG24 were withdrawn in 2012 as part of the Government’s National Framework initiative. The National Policy Framework document states that for new developments there should be a presumption in favour of ‘sustainable development’ with aims to avoid noise from giving rise to significant adverse impacts, mitigate and reduce to a minimum other adverse impacts, including the use of conditions, and protect areas of tranquillity.
As part of the discussion of ‘’significant adverse’’ and ‘’adverse’’ the NPSE introduced the concepts of No Observed Effect Level, Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level and Significant Observed Adverse Effect Level.
Unfortunately the above statements, whilst setting clear objectives in general terms, do not set any clear guidance in numerical terms and are open to different assessment approaches.
The latest documents (ProPG proposals) produced jointly by the Association of Noise Consultants, the Institute of Acoustics and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health have attempted to overcome this lack of definitive guidance by introducing an initial risk assessment process with indicative noise levels for various degrees of increasing risk of adverse effect from noise. Unfortunately, whilst the lowest category of negligible risk has a defined noise range, the other higher categories of low, medium and high risk have no clearly defined ranges and are open to interpretation by the assessor, depending on the accompanying acoustic design process that follows. The latter involves the Local Authorities being satisfied that any proposal for new housing has followed a good acoustic design process and requiring the applicants to produce an Acoustic Design Statement.
The company has conducted numerous planning assessments in various parts of the country with more recent ProPG housing projects at Milton Kynes, Elland and Chapeltown.