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Mayor's London Plan: new developments near noisy venues

Acoustic design for residential developments features in the London Mayor’s new London Plan, which is available for consultation until March 2018.

The draft document gives unparalleled recommendations to protect London’s pubs, clubs and live music venues by enabling London Boroughs to refuse and resist developments that would threaten further venue closures.

The Plan’s Agent of Change principle places “responsibility for mitigating impacts from existing noise-generating activities or uses on the new development”. A section of the draft plan on Noise states that existing land uses “should not be unduly impacted by the introduction of new noise-sensitive uses”.

For example, developers will be held responsible for making sure that the acoustic design in new residential dwellings is robust enough to mitigate any noise experienced by new residents. Usually, this hefty cost would fall to live music venues, pubs and clubs – often resulting in a significant financial burden.

In London, this type of situation comes around quite often, given there is a pub on almost every street corner. Entertainment venues in other cities such as Bristol have been threatened due to pressure from nearby new or converted buildings that have, or will, be made into residential accommodation.

Since last May, the Agent of Change principle is already included in planning guidance in England but is not compulsory. There is a proposal to enshrine the principle in UK law, which would force property developers to take into account the impact of any new scheme on pre-existing businesses, such as music venues, before going ahead with their plans. That could mean, for example, the developer of new flats taking responsibility for soundproofing to avoid the risk of new neighbours complaining about noise from an existing venue.

In recent months we have worked on a number of residential schemes located close to licensed entertainment venues (namely pubs).

Our first port of call is to contact the governing local authority and establish their policy for entertainment noise.

If the residential development is to share a separating wall or floor with an existing pub, we would firstly capture source levels inside the pub, test the existing wall or floor and then advise on what steps need to be taken to improve the wall or floor such that the residential use goes undisturbed.

If the development is located in close proximity to a licensed premise the approach will be similar, but the advice will be on the design of the external building envelope e.g. glazing, ventilation and external wall specifications.

Noise from pubs and clubs can vary significantly and people can be much more sensitive to its characteristic than road or rail noise. As such, it is hugely important for any prospective residential development to include good sound insulation in the design so that homes can be built near the places of entertainment where people want to live.

Anderson Acoustics welcomes the Mayor’s proposals. We look forward to applying our experience in acoustic design for both venues and residential development to help developers secure planning permission for great sounding homes in vibrant city locations.

If you would like to read more about our services for building acoustics, click here. If you have a project in mind and would like a conversation with one of our team about your development, please get in touch.

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