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Planning applications

The pollution team are available to aid potential applicants submitting a planning application that have potential environmental implications to understand how impacts can be minimised . As noise is the most common impact, it forms the main part of the following advice.

Noise, odour and air quality impacts

 Environmental Health impacts include: 

  • Noise
  • Air quality         
  • Odour nuisance from food preparation and sewers
  • Drainage
  • Contaminated Land

Enquiries about the planning process should be made to City of London planning applications  section. If you are submitting a planning application involving either a change of use or a new development you must consider any potential environmental health impacts that may arise as a result.

Why should I consider environmental health issues at the planning stage?

It is often more cost effective to consider environmental health issues at the planning stage and design-out any potential  impacts on the amenity of the neighbourhood before they arise and avoid enforcement action should complaints be received and justified.

There are planning policies adopted by the City related to these impacts and need to be addressed during the planning process. The City of London Core Strategy , Local Plan . Air Quality and Noise Strategies will need to be considered.

Pre-application discussions

Pre-application discussions with the City Planning officers and the Pollution Control Team where environmental health impacts for the development are a possibility are strongly advised  (Note: There may be a fee associated with pre-applications). The City Planning officers will consult with the Pollution Control Team on matters and any issues can be identified early and appropriate measures can be designed and agreed prior to submission of your application.


Noise impact assessment

Upon receipt of a planning application, the City will consider whether noise problems may arise from the development. Typical developments with noise implications are:

  • Major redevelopment: demolition and construction – noise from redevelopment, servicing, plant and equipment installed.
  • Use as restaurants, cafes, licensed premises – noise from people, music, plant and equipment and servicing,
  • New residential development – noise from traffic and other uses nearby.

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 competent acoustician. In some cases a noise impact assessment will be required to be submitted as part of the application. In others noise issues will be addressed through conditions attached to planning permissions.

Requirements for common applications

Plant and equipment

The level of noise emitted from any new plant shall be lower than the existing background level by at least 10 dBA. Noise levels shall be determined at one metre from the window of the nearest noise sensitive premises. The measurements and assessments shall be made in accordance with B.S. 4142. The background noise level shall be expressed as the lowest LA90 (10 minutes) during which plant is or may be in operation. Following installation but before the new plant comes into operation measurements of noise from the new plant must be taken and a report demonstrating that the plant as installed meets the design requirements shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

Problems associated with nuisance odour and noise emissions from commercial kitchen exhausts are very common, particularly in the City where housing and offices may be adjacent to or even immediately above catering premises. These premises might include pubs, clubs, restaurants and takeaways that may be open until the early hours of the morning.

This guidance document provides clear guidance on best practice for the minimisation of odour and noise nuisance from kitchen exhaust systems and will be of use prior to the submission of any application.

What do I need to submit as part of my 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 1999 and the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011. 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.

Smaller scale projects e.g. a 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.

If your application involves a change of use of 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, eg improvements to sound insulation, noise limiters, lobby doors, double glazing, noise management plan.
  • Change in the hours of operation - you will need to check 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 11pm 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.

What happens next?

The City Corporation will make a decision on  the planning application. Some planning permissions may be granted with conditions.

Pollution Control, having been consulted, may make a recommendation that if planning permission were to be granted it should contain conditions relating to noise control so as to mitigate any noise impact on the community.

You can check for any existing conditions that relate to a particular premises within the City on the planning portal.