While the NAS believes that there is a need for up to date guidance on noise we also advise that such guidance includes provision for and/or takes into account the following recommendations:
A. The strengthening of building regulations relating to noise pollution to create a single, national standard for the design and construction of homes and to improve acoustic protection in buildings, following a review of standards in comparable northern European countries.
B. Allowance for local authorities to refuse planning permission where noise in the completed development would be deemed to be excessive and cannot be cost effectively reduced. New noise sensitive developments should not be created in places where occupants would be likely to resort to legal action against established economic activities which are otherwise acceptable.
C. The Code for Sustainable Homes should be updated, with noise protection included as one of the measures for sustainable building design, reflecting the importance of quiet buildings to the health and wellbeing of the occupiers.
D. Planning Policy should enable and encourage local communities to create and protect tranquil spaces and green squares and empower planners to consider the availability of conveniently located tranquil spaces when granting planning permission for homes in noisy environments.
E. The establishment of development zones, as part of the Code for Sustainable Homes, that create and maintain sufficient acoustic separation between residential and other noise sensitive uses, and noise generators (such as commercial and enterprise zones). This zoning should guide planning application considerations and allow residential and commercial (and other noise generating areas) to function successfully and cost effectively. Local authorities should be empowered to ensure that the economic, social and cultural benefits of land use mixing are secured without creating noise disturbance.
F.Government policy should encourage local authorities and third sector partners to test innovative approaches to tackling intractable local noise and soundscape problems, such as in the White Night West Street Story project designed and run jointly by the Noise Abatement Society and Brighton & Hove City Council; including through targeted funding for pilot projects covering noise prevention and other beneficial outcomes such as crime prevention and enhancing the urban environment.
G. The Government should establish a cross-sector, inter-disciplinary acoustic, academic, NGO and property industry task force to provide greater assistance to minimise the health effects of Low Frequency Noise, establish the impact this has on people and create a maximum exposure limit for householders. The task-force should be mandated to recommend updates to building regulations to protect residents in their homes from unnecessary noise disturbance.
H. The Government should strengthen building standards for schools to better address the impact of poor acoustics on educational attainment, building on the extensive research that has been conducted into this problem. These guidelines should set stricter minimum acoustic protection levels and lower maximum allowable noise levels for class rooms that should be followed by developers and architects when designing new schools, universities and colleges (and extensions to existing facilities) to create better learning environments.
I. The Government should introduce a new funding programme, to tackle poor noise insulation, which creates acute distress leading to neighbour conflicts in parts of the UK’s existing housing stock, in partnership with private sector funding and within the auspices of the ECO home improvement programme and the Code for Sustainable Homes. This would be complementary to the aims of the Green Deal and could be achieved at no additional cost using insulation that provides both acoustic and thermal properties.