OSM Environmental Consulting have conducted a successful multi-service…
A successful Noise Impact Assessment by OSM Environmental Consulting has led to planning approval for our client redeveloping an existing building into an elderly care facility.
Based in Portavogie on the Ards Peninsula, this development is designed to meet Northern Ireland’s increasing demand for elderly care, which Eithne Gilligan, head of policy at Age NI, believes is the most challenging topic in Northern Ireland. “It’s under-funded at the moment, it is under-provided, and it comes under a lot of strain in all sorts of ways,” commented Gilligan.
Indeed, the NI Assembly has had to release £23 million of emergency funding to address the shortage in care provision in Northern Ireland on a short term basis.
The Need for a Noise Impact Assessment
Although a worthwhile project, it is nonetheless imperative that set processes are followed to gain planning permission and ensure a sustainable development.
Environmental Health raised concerns that future occupants of the residential home could be negatively affected by noise disturbance from nearby leisure facilities, including a children’s play park, a sports pitch and two newly constructed skate parks. Therefore, to secure planning permission, the applicant was asked to consider the issue of noise disturbance to ensure future occupants are able to enjoy their residence at the care facility, free of excessive noise.
Noise Impact Assessment Considerations
The applicant hired OSM’s dedicated Noise Impact Assessment team to undertake this project. Immediately, we were able to identify the main source of noise to the proposed development as the skate parks.
Historically, skate parks were made from a concrete base, causing disturbance to nearby residents at late hours. As the two skate parks are recently built with newly innovated Skatelite material, previous skate park noise measurements were not relevant and new data was required for the Noise Impact Assessment.
Noise Impact Assessment Information Gathering
During the Covid-19 pandemic, life slowing down and businesses such as pubs and restaurants closing was one of the many factors slowing down construction, particularly as Noise Impact Assessments were not considered an accurate reflection of usual life.
Although this Noise Impact Assessment took place in the height of the pandemic, the skate park was in full use as people headed to open-air spaces as a result of indoor leisure activities being closed.
OSM contacted the Environmental Health Officer on behalf of our client to agree the best methods of Noise Impact Assessment during these unusual times. For the most accurate data, our team headed out at the busiest times at the skate park to conduct noise surveys, including after 8pm on weekdays in good weather and weekend afternoons. Going beyond the 9 to 5 for our clients, our team were able to provide the most accurate data for reliable Noise Impact Assessments.
Noise Impact Assessment Findings
Our Noise Impact Assessment survey showed that footfall was notably higher than in previous weeks as the first wave of spring weather had arrived that weekend. This allowed us to assess the skate parks at their absolute busiest times with our industry leading in-house technology and recommend the best measures to compensate for any noise disturbance to the future care home residents.
From this, our Noise Impact Assessment found that during busy periods at the skate park, there was potential for the skate park to negatively impact noise-sensitive rooms within the proposed care home, causing disturbance for the residents.
Noise Impact Assessment Recommendations
To overcome this, our Noise Impact Assessment team recommended specific upgraded glazing and ventilation systems solutions to be incorporated into the proposed development’s design.
In other developments, an acoustic barrier may have been recommended to reduce noise impact. However, for this specific project, this would enforce the solitude of living in residential care. Therefore, the OSM Noise Impact Assessment team recommended appropriate glazing to maintain a visual connection to the outside world, as watching the activity of the skate parks and sports pitch will allow future occupants to feel more included in the community.
Noise Impact Assessment Results
Environmental Health agreed with our findings and stipulated soundproof glazing on all habitable rooms and installation of an acoustically attenuated ventilation system for all habitable rooms, as outlined in our Noise Impact Assessment report. Our client adjusted their plans to include these measures recommended from our Noise Impact Assessment report to successfully achieve planning permission.