Noise and planning - advice for businesses

This advice has been written to keep potential applicants submitting a planning application that has potential noise implications.

It is important consider any potential noise problems that may arise as a result of your proposed application.

Consider noise at the planning stage

Excessive noise can have a serious impact on the health and wellbeing of local residents. Noise can lead to annoyance, irritability and/or sleep disturbance.

Environmental Health may take action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This could result in a legal notice being served and could result in prosecution if the matter is not resolved.

It is often more cost effective to "design-out" any potential noise problems before they arise. If properly considered, noise problems can be resolved at the planning stage.

Before submitting an application

Before you submit a planning application are strongly advised to enter into a pre-application discussion with Planning. (There is a fee associated with pre-applications).

Planning will consult Environmental Health on matters of noise and any issues can be identified early and appropriate acoustic measures can be designed prior to submission of your application. In some cases a Noise Impact Assessment by a suitably qualified acoustician will need to be submitted as part of a local requirement to validate your application.

Noise Impact Assessment

Application proposals that raise issues of disturbance or are considered to be in a noise sensitive area should be supported by a noise impact assessment prepared by a suitably qualified acoustician.

Planning will consider whether noise problems may arise from the development, and will consult with Environmental Health.

Typical consultations that Environmental Health are consulted on:

  • new housing developments near
  • eg busy roads or railway lines
  • change of use eg an office to a bar
  • flat conversions. Adequate sound insulation is required to protect against noise, particularly where there is a mix of residential and business
  • installation of noisy machinery eg air conditioning units
  • other applications with potential for noise which will impact upon local residents

Sources of guidance and help that is available

If noise is likely to be a factor in your planning application, you need to consider its likely impact on the local community, and if necessary, what controls will be put in place to ensure that the community will not be unduly impacted.

  • Planning Policy Guidance 24 (PPG 24)
    This guidance is used to determine whether or not a site is suitable for residential development in terms of noise.
  • BS 4142: 1997 Method for rating industrial noise affecting mixed residential and industrial areas
    This British Standard can be used to assess the likelihood of complaints arising from the installation of a new industrial noise source eg new air conditioning or refrigeration units.
  • BS8233: 1999 Sound insulation and noise reduction for buildings
    This British Standard provides information on the design of internal acoustics for buildings. Environmental Health would normally recommend that noise reduction measures are put in place that will achieve the "good" internal noise levels in bedrooms and living rooms set out in the standard.
  • World Health Organisation Community Noise Guidelines 2000
    This guidance describes the impacts on health that may arise as a result of exposure to noise and recommends noise levels within residential properties
  • Acoustic Consultants
    Acoustic consultants can be commissioned to conduct an assessment of the existing noise climate, make predictions about noise levels that will arise from the development and/or give expert advice about noise control. The professional bodies for acoustic consultants are the Institute of Acoustics and the Association of Noise Consultants and you can search for registered consultants on their websites.

What to submit as part of an application

Some complex or large scale developments may require a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and such developments are defined in the Town and Country Planning (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations 1988 and the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 1999. Any EIA must include references to the noise impact of the proposal.

Other large and medium scale projects will often employ professional acoustic consultants to provide advice on noise issues.

Small scale projects

Smaller scale projects eg a corner shop installing an air conditioning unit, where there may not be a budget to employ an acoustic consultant, will need to assess as far as possible any likely impact from noise on the surrounding community. In this example, the following could be considered and included as part of the application:

  • hours of operation of the air conditioning unit
  • location of the nearest noise sensitive premises
  • the noise output of the air conditioning unit to be installed (manufacturers will supply this data)
  • acoustic treatments to be used, eg anti-vibration mounting, acoustic enclosures
  • any other relevant information that would help support the application and provide evidence that the project is not going to have a detrimental impact on the surrounding community.

Change of use

If your application involves a change of use for a commercial premises or a change in the hours of operation for a business, you may need to consider the following as part of your application:

  • change of use - if in changing the use of the business there is likely to be a change in the noise arising from the business, eg a retail unit turning into a bar, you will need to consider this in your application and include details of any potential noise control measures
  • change in the hours of operation - you will need to check with Planning whether there are any conditions relating to the hours of operation on the current planning permission. If there are restrictions on the hours of operation and you plan to open beyond this you will need to submit an application to vary the condition. You should be aware that the community will be more sensitive to noise after 10pm and before 7am and additional control measures may be required if the new business will be producing noise during this time. This needs to be addressed in the planning application.


Planning will make a decision on whether the application will be granted or refused or if conditions will be attached.

Noise during the construction phase

If there are residential properties close to your development, you will need to consider how noise will be controlled during the construction phase. The Council recommends that noisy activities should not be carried out on site, outside the following hours:

Monday to Friday 8am-6pm
Saturday 8am-1pm
Not at all on Sundays or Bank Holidays

Where complaints are received from members of the public about noise from the site, a legal notice may be served under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 to formally restrict the time for noisy works.