Award recognition for Bureau Veritas Acoustics & Vibration team

20/07/18


The Bureau Veritas Acoustics and Vibration team has been recognised by the Association of Noise Consultants after winning a prestigious award for work undertaken on the Sidac Sports & Social Club in St Helens.  Here Simon Faircloth, Senior Acoustic Consultant for Bureau Veritas, gives a breakdown of the winning project and what this award means for our specialist team.

Introducing the Bureau Veritas Acoustics & Vibration team

We are a specialist team working alongside clients to carry out a variety of work such as undertaking environmental noise consultancy and assessments, occupational noise and vibration risk assessments, as well as supporting architects and contractors on building acoustics issues, for instance on new build residential schemes, health care facilities and schools. Our scope of work is diverse and can stretch across a wide variety of industries.

The winning project 

Our work at the Sidac Sports & Social Club in St Helens derived from a regular client of ours, Countryside, who were seeking planning permission for a new residential development on former playing fields adjacent to the social club. In order for them to gain planning permission they had to deal with noise problems associated with the club’s function room, which is why they came to Bureau Veritas for assistance.

It was fantastic to be recognised by the Association of Noise Consultants. We won the Smaller Projects Award, which was a new category introduced this year as a way of giving more companies the opportunity to submit projects that may not be that grand in terms of prestige or construction cost but that nevertheless have significant merit from an acoustic design viewpoint. Our project fitted the criteria really well, with input from a variety of different acoustic professionals who all played a key part in our success.

Project challenges 

Initially, this project appeared to be fairly straightforward. Under planning requirements, Countryside needed Bureau Veritas to carry out a noise assessment for their proposed new development. However, the Planning Authority insisted that noise compliance had to be achieved with windows open for ventilation, rather than relying on mechanical ventilation. This meant that noise had to be prevented from breaking out of the venue in the first place, requiring extensive works to the building. These works were secured via a planning obligation between the developer and the Local Authority known as a Section 106 agreement.

This subsequently changed the scope of our work and meant that we had to liaise between the developer, the management of the club, the planning authorities and the contractors in order to guide the necessary remedial works required to successfully complete this project. 

This is quite a topical issue at the moment. Recently there has been increased support from the Government for the Planning (Agent of Change) Bill, which will hold developers responsible for dealing with noise issues when developing near music venues. This change comes following a worrying number of music and entertainment venues closing down due to the hefty costs of overcoming noise complaints. In future, the responsibility will be with the developers to mitigate the impact of noise on a new development as opposed to the venue.

Overcoming the issues

The venue is typical of many sports and social clubs with a 300 capacity function room hosting weddings, birthday parties and occasional sporting events (live boxing) most weekends. There have been noise complaints mostly relating to highly audible music with strong bass/beat content. The building is lightweight in construction, providing poor insulation against noise breakout and the club is reliant on bands and DJs to effectively police their own noise levels. The Local Authority made it clear that a good acoustic outcome was going to be a key driver in its decision regarding planning permission for the proposed development.

We knew it would be essential to take a holistic approach to controlling noise breakout from the venue. The works undertaken included: benchmark acoustic testing; enhancing the building envelope with heavy, sound insulating materials; providing acoustic lobbies; enveloping the poorest performing sections of the building in masonry; and installing a bespoke ‘tamper-proof’ sound system to control sound levels generated within the club. 

The results

Post-works testing demonstrated that the target noise levels were readily achieved, including at low frequencies (which caused the most complaints) resulting in the planning permission for the new development being secured and a significant improvement in noise from the club affecting existing neighbours.

Overall, this was a fantastic project to be a part of and of course it is extremely rewarding to have been recognised by the Association of Noise Consultants in this way. The client was delighted with the work we carried out and there is no better acknowledgement of our hard work than a prestigious industry award.

To find out more about Bureau Veritas please call 0345 600 1828 or email info@uk.bureauveritas.com.

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