Peter Rogers talks to licensing industry about noise and vibrancy and impacts on health
Over 250 delegates from across the licensing industry met at Stratford-upon-Avon in November 2021 as part of the Institute of Licensing's National Training Conference. A major topic for discussion is how we operate in a world changed by the pandemic. Sustainable Acoustics MD, Peter Rogers spoke about the noise and vibrancy and its impact on health and well-being.
In his session Peter looked at the implications of returning vibrancy to our streets post-covid and the implications of street licensing, whilst considering the impact on residents in relation to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Night Noise targets and implications for wellbeing for those living in urban centres. The WHO in 2009 concluded that “noise is amongst the top environmental risks to health, second only to air pollution.” As a result, the WHO have set noise targets to help protect the health and wellbeing of populations at night. In many areas of UK towns and cities noise levels already exceed the thresholds defined by WHO. In the UK the street licensing regulations have been initially temporarily relaxed, with the legacy of Covid being that long term outside space utilisation needs to be rethought. But this changes the status quo for residents. As vibrancy returns to our streets post-lockdown and noise levels increase once more, changes to the soundscape have implications for the health and well-being of local residents. We know there is a growing problem on our streets managing the impacts from vibrancy.
Peter said “we urgently need to conduct sound heath risk assessments in vibrant night-time areas to establish baselines and monitor the problem in the same way as we conduct air pollution monitoring. This is vital to protect residents’ health from long term noise exposure and degraded quality of sleep”.
Peter pointed out to the Licensing industry there is an opportunity to consider the issue of night-time noise as part of sustainable city planning and licensing. The challenge will be planning the cities of the future so occupants can fulfil all their basic needs within a short distance, whilst managing vibrancy and protecting well-being, including residents’ ability to sleep. As part of the drive to build back better we must think about creating urban soundscapes that help enrich people’s health.
Peter says, “Given its impact on human health the urban soundscape in our ‘cities of the future’ must not be left to chance.” Peter goes on to say, “in the past it was surprising how often acoustics was not considered until much later in the s a result of this, the licensing industry have been landed with the consequences, such as dealing with noise complaints from residents and nuisance.” In terms of next steps, Peter says; “The question we need to ask ourselves now is, what do we want sustainable cities to sound like and what do each of us need to do now and tomorrow, to help deliver this vision for future generations”.
The Institute of Licensing is the professional body that represents those who work within the field of Licensing. The Institute responds to the needs of its members to develop professional skills through training and communication as well as by representing members’ views in the framing, reviewing and enforcement of laws and regulations.