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Policy D13 Noise


  1. In order to reduce, manage and mitigate noise to improve health and quality of life, residential and other non-aviation development proposals should manage noise by:
    1. avoiding significant adverse noise impacts on health and quality of life
    2. reflecting the Agent of Change principle to ensure measures do not add unduly to the costs and administrative burdens on existing noise-generating uses
    3. mitigating and minimising the existing and potential adverse impacts of noise on, from, within, as a result of, or in the vicinity of new development without placing unreasonable restrictions on development
    4. improving and enhancing the acoustic environment and promoting appropriate soundscapes (including Quiet Areas and spaces of relative tranquillity)
    5. separating new noise-sensitive development from major noise sources (such as road, rail, air transport and some types of industrial use) through the use of distance, screening or internal layout – in preference to sole reliance on sound insulation
    6. where it is not possible to achieve separation of noise-sensitive development and noise sources without undue impact on other sustainable development objectives, then any potential adverse effects should be controlled and mitigated through applying good acoustic design principles
    7. promoting new technologies and improved practices to reduce noise at source, and on the transmission path from source to receiver.
  2. Boroughs, and others with relevant responsibilities, should identify and nominate new Quiet Areas and protect existing Quiet Areas in line with the procedure in Defra’s Noise Action Plan for Agglomerations.

The management of noise is about encouraging the right acoustic environment in the right place at the right time. This is important to promote good health and a good quality of life within the wider context of achieving sustainable development. The management of noise should be an integral part of development proposals and considered as early as possible. Managing noise includes improving and enhancing the acoustic environment and promoting appropriate soundscapes. This can mean allowing some places or certain times to become noisier within reason, whilst others become quieter. Consideration of existing noise sensitivity within an area is important to minimise potential conflicts of uses or activities, for example in relation to internationally important nature conservation sites which contain noise-sensitive species.

The Agent of Change Principle places the responsibility for mitigating impacts from existing noise-generating activities or uses on the new development. Through the application of this principle existing land uses should not be unduly impacted by the introduction of new noise-sensitive uses

The management of noise also includes promoting good acoustic design of the inside of buildings. Section 5 of BS 8223:2014 provides guidance on how best to achieve this.

Deliberately introducing sounds can help mitigate the adverse impact of existing sources of noise, enhance the enjoyment of the public realm, and help protect the relative tranquillity and quietness of places where such features are valued. For example, playing low-level music outside the entrance to nightclubs has been found to reduce noise from queueing patrons, leading to an overall reduction in noise levels. Water features can be used to reduce the traffic noise, replacing it with the sound of falling water, generally found to be more pleasant by most people[33].

[33] For more information on approaches to minimise noise related to road and rail traffic, aircraft, water transport and industry see the Mayor’s Environment Strategy.

Heathrow and London City Airport Operators have responsibility for noise action plans for airports. Policy T8 Aviation sets out the Mayor’s approach to aviation-related development.

The definition of Tranquil Areas, Quiet Areas and spaces of relative tranquillity are matters for London boroughs. These are likely to reflect the specific context of individual boroughs, such that Quiet Areas in central London boroughs may reasonably be expected not to be as quiet as Quiet Areas in more residential boroughs. Defra has identified parts of Metropolitan Open Land and local green spaces as potential Quiet Areas that boroughs may wish to designate[34].