The built environment  and planning

The built environment encompasses the surroundings, designed and built by people, in which we live, work, play, rest and sleep.  It includes not only residential, industrial, commercial and public service buildings, but also the managed and landscaped spaces such as parks, as well as the road and rail transport infrastructure.


Development and planning

CadnaA Model of University Campus

Example: Noise level predictions at the University Campus

Planning and development services from ISVR Consulting include the measurement, assessment and specification of noise from new developments to comply with planning conditions set by local authorities, or to rectify retrospectively any noise issues associated with recent developments, including:

  • Residential developments, new build houses and flats, change of use, mixed use sites
  • Industrial Development, factory sites, light industrial
  • Commercial Development, restaurants and take-aways, night clubs
  • Schools and Hospitals
  • Mineral Extraction, waste recycling
  • Recreational Activities, clay target shooting, live music events

We can assist with the assessment of the suitability of sites for new developments in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This usually involves assessment in line with local authority policy, or liaison with local authorities to agree acceptable noise conditions. We have CadnaA software to model the propagation of sound from industrial plant and road and rail traffic and to map the noise in the neighbouring community.

Site suitability may be assessed according to local planning policy or Planning Policy Guidance PPG 24 “Planning and Noise”, with interior and noise levels controlled according to British Standard BS 8233 “Sound Insulation and noise reduction for buildings - Code of Practice”. This can include the specification of the building envelope, in particular the glazing requirements.

The noise emitted from industrial, commercial and residential sites can be assessed and specified according the local policy, often with reference to BS 4142 “Method for rating industrial noise affecting mixed residential and industrial areas”. This work typically assesses noise from plant and machinery on the site affecting nearby noise sensitive residential properties.  Advice can be given on suitable noise limits, as well as guidance on noise control measures to reduce noise.

The noise and vibration impact of a development is always important, and can be a determining factor for some planning applications.  Advice from ISVR Consulting at an early stage of the project will reduce the impact and likelihood of unexpected acoustic issues, that could otherwise cause significant disruption to a project. 


National Planning Policy Framework, NPPF

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) took effect in March 2012.  It sets out the government's commitment to sustainable development and making the planning system more local, proportionate and less restrictive.  The NPPF supersedes 44 other documents, including PPG 24, but as it is only 60 pages long including annexes, it is short on technical guidance.

The NPPF requires local planning authorities to develop Local Plans with local policy and guidance that reflect both the NPPF and the 2010 Noise Policy Statement for England (NPSE) while also considering the needs and priorities of their communities.

The NPPF covers all areas of planning, and noise is one consideration. Noise is covered briefly in Paragraph 123, which states:

“Planning policies and decisions should aim to:

  • avoid noise from giving rise to significant adverse impacts on health and quality of life as a result of new development
  • mitigate and reduce to a minimum other adverse impacts on health and quality of life arising from noise from new development, including through the use of conditions
  • recognise that development will often create some noise and existing businesses wanting to develop in continuance of their business should not have unreasonable restrictions put on them because of changes in nearby land uses since they were established
  • identify and protect areas of tranquillity which have remained relatively undisturbed by noise and are prized for their recreational and amenity value for this reason”

Paragraph 144 of the document, in relation to minerals sites, states the following:

“When determining planning applications, local planning authorities should:

  •  ...
  • ensure that any unavoidable noise, dust and particle emissions and any blasting vibrations are controlled, mitigated or removed at source, and establish appropriate noise limits for extraction in proximity to noise sensitive properties
  • ...”

The Department for Communities and Local Government issued some policy guidance on noise in 2016.  However the Institute of Acoustics (IOA), the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC) and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), recognising the lack of practical guidance as opposed to policy,  have jointly prepared ProPG: Planning & Noise.  Professional Practice Guidance on Planning & Noise - New Residential Development as a guide to good practice. 

The guidance is available in three pdf files:


BS 4142 “Method for rating and assessing industrial and commercial sound”

British Standard BS 4142:2014 is widely used in the UK to assess whether noise from factories, machinery and industrial or commercial premises is likely to give rise to complaints from people living nearby. It is also used to assess sound from proposed, new, modified or additional machinery at a site, and to assess sound from commercial or industrial activities at proposed new residential properties. It is used in planning, public inquiries, or in legal disputes over intrusive noise levels. An assessment may apply to daytime or night-time noise.

The standard is based on the principle that the likelihood of any complaints depends on the noise level of the factory or plant relative to the background noise when the factory or plant is not operating. It is designed to apply to noise from, say, a small air-conditioning unit up to a large factory or oil refinery.

The noise level of the industrial plant is measured at the assessment location, normally outside a nearby residence. The measured level may be adjusted, depending on the character or nature of the noise, by adding a penalty of from 0 dB to 6 dB if the noise contains tones, from 0 dB to 9 dB depending on the degree to which the noise is impulsive, or 3 dB if the noise is intermittent with distinctive on/off characteristics. The noise level, adjusted if necessary, is the ‘rating level’. The ‘background’ noise level at the assessment location is also measured at a time when the specific noise source is not operating.

As general guidance, if the rating level is more than 10 dB above the background level, this is an indication of “a significant adverse impact, depending on the context”. If the rating level is 5 dB above the background, this is an indication of an “adverse impact”. Hence, the lower the difference between the rating and background levels, the less likelihood of complaints.

British Standard BS 4142;2014, replaces the 1997 version, and has been substantially revised to reflect the National Planning Policy Framework and guidance, and new knowledge on subjective responses to noise.

ISVR Consulting carries out assessments of industrial noise using BS 4142 and can also offer cost effective noise control solutions and designs to minimise noise reaching nearby residents, and thereby to minimise any adverse comments or complaints.



Planning Policy Guidance 24 (PPG 24)

ISVR Consulting can assist with the assessment of suitability of sites for new noise-sensitive developments in accordance with the Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) 24 “Planning and noise”, by the Department of the Environment.  Although superseded by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), published in March 2012, some authorities still refer to PPG 24.

For new dwellings, PPG 24 recommends the use of ‘Noise Exposure Category’ (NEC) bands, designed to assist Local Authorities in evaluating planning applications for residential developments near to or affected by road, rail, air and ‘mixed’ noise sources.  A proposed development will fall into one of four NEC bands, based on the noise levels at the site.  Normally 24-hour surveys are carried out on site to establish the average (LAeq) levels for night-time and daytime periods.

The assessment is then based on these four NEC bands, from lowest to highest noise levels:

  • NEC A: “Noise need not be considered as a determining factor in granting planning permission, although noise at the high end of the category should not be regarded as a desirable level”.
  • NEC B: “Noise should be taken into account when determining planning applications and, where appropriate, conditions imposed to ensure an adequate level of protection against noise”.
  • NEC C: “Planning permission should not normally be granted.  Where it is considered that permission should be given, for example because there are no alternative quieter sites available, conditions should be imposed to ensure a commensurate level of protection against noise”.
  • NEC D: “Planning permission should normally be refused”.

ISVR Consulting can also assist in minimising the potentially adverse impact of noise on proposed noise sensitive developments should the assessment from PPG 24 suggests that planning permission may not be granted.


Noise propagation, modelling and mapping

CadnaA Model of University Campus

CadnaA Model of the University Campus

ISVR Consulting uses the CadnaA modelling software to predict, calculate, assess, and display environmental noise radiated from roads, railways and industrial sites. 

CadnaA models sound propagation and can handle complex situations with multiple noise sources and complex layouts of barriers, buildings and obstacles of various dimensions  which may screen or reflect noise. It uses calculation methods and algorithms which comply with national and international standards and guidelines.

We can assess and map the sound field withiin proposed residential and industrial developments to optimise the site layout and mitigate high noise levels, to assess the benefits of acoustic barriers and screening, or to predict noise radiated from sites to minimise their noise impact in the surrounding area.  As a simple example, the picture on the left shows the output from a CadnaA model of the Highfield Campus of the University of Southampton, based on estimated traffic flows on the surrounding roads.

This modelling approach may also be used to carry out Environmental Impact Assessments as part of larger development schemes.

Acknowledgement: CadnaA is a registered trademerk of DataKustik GmbH