How can Syntegra Consulting help me at the planning stage of a construction project?

It can be argued that the planning stage of a construction project is the most important step in the entire building process, but as individuals who regularly work on them will know, this involves following a multitude of regulations and the completion of numerous reports.

Here at Syntegra Consulting, we have a team of experienced professionals who can carry out all of the specialist planning reports project architects and consultants need before their building can be given the green light to go ahead.

However, the specific reports that are needed will vary depending on the type of project that is being undertaken.

In this guide to how our services can help, we take a detailed look at several of these reports and how they can assist you in getting your project off the ground.

More specifically, we are going to use the scenario of a multi-storey high-rise residential block of flats being built close to London’s Heathrow airport to demonstrate where each specialist planning report may be required.

Energy strategy report

An energy strategy report would be required for such a project, to assess how exactly the construction work and the finished building would comply with local authority sustainability checklists, as well as its overall energy demands.

This would be analysed through how many green measures the project would feature, how it would distribute energy and whether or not it would embrace renewable sources of heating and electricity, for instance.

The overriding aim of this service is to demonstrate how the project will meet targets for reducing potentially harmful carbon dioxide emissions.

In our high-rise block of flats near Heathrow scenario, the energy strategy report would be of particular importance, as energy usage and carbon emissions in the vicinity would already be high due to activity at the airport.

Daylight and sunlight assessment

The daylight and sunlight assessment forms an important part of the energy strategy report local councils usually require before granting planning permission to a project, as it is designed to determine exactly how much natural light will be able to enter a completed building.

This is essential for a number of reasons, as light can potentially affect everything from business productivity levels to the health and wellbeing of the residents or employees who are using the finished space.

What’s more, the daylight and sunlight assessment is needed to analyse the impact that a proposed building will have on those that have already been constructed in the vicinity. In the case of a high-rise apartment block, for example, shadows would be likely. This could potentially deprive neighbours of access to natural light, to which they have certain rights, as explained below.

Syntegra Consulting’s experts can help you to calculate your project’s compliance with the Average Daylight Factors, while also suggesting changes to initial designs to assist them in maximising available natural light.

By making the most of this, businesses could potentially increase their green credentials as well as their energy bills, as they will may not need to spend as much on artificial lighting.

Our Maximum Envelope Analysis service can also come into play here. If developers get in touch with us about this in the beginning stages of their project, issues can be minimised further down the line.

This service is designed to help maximise the development value of a project and it can save significant amounts of both time and money.

We can carry out tests to assess the ‘maximum massing’ of a proposed building, which shows the ‘envelope’ in which construction can take place without impacting on surrounding premises’ daylight and sunlight rights.

Rights of light assessment

There are regulations in place to make sure that existing buildings can still access adequate amounts of light, with Syntegra Consulting able to carry out rights of light assessments to make sure architects and planning consultants are taking this into account when designing a new building ahead of presenting plans to a local authority.

Some confusion often surrounds the rights of light, as the law states existing buildings only have the right to a certain amount and not all of the light they have ever been exposed to. The rights of light analysis focuses purely on daylight, not sunlight.

At Syntegra Consulting, we use specialist computer software to calculate the exact proximity a new structure can be to an existing building to ensure it still complies with the rights of light regulations.

This report forms an essential part of the planning process, but particularly in the example of a high-rise block of flats, as the area its shadow could be cast in would be determined by the outcome of the rights of light consultancy report.

Although it may sound like it has some similarities, it is important for developers to remember that the rights of light assessment is a completely separate requirement to the daylight, sunlight and overshadowing assessments.

It is not just the building as a whole that can be analysed in terms of rights of light either, as individual rooms and even corridors can also be assessed.

Failure to comply with rights of light requirements could result in a legal case, with those affected by the lack of light potentially being entitled to a certain level of financial compensation.

Air quality testing

Air quality testing is another essential report that needs to be taken into consideration when planning to construct a residential property close to an airport, as factors such as noise and pollution can all have a negative impact.

This specialist planning report is designed to measure the air quality at the site of a proposed project to make sure construction workers and future residents alike will not be adversely affected by the new build.

In the case of the block of flats close to Heathrow, noise and carbon pollution would already be an issue due to the activity of planes, meaning that local planning departments would need to assess any extra factors affecting the air quality of the area before granting permission to a new build.

Acoustic noise report

When it comes to assessing the sound impact of a proposed building, Syntegra Consulting’s experts can also carry out an acoustic noise report.

These assessments look at how effective a project would be in keeping out airborne sound, by analysing the noise insulation ability of walls and floors.

If your local authority does not believe that your proposals meet their required standards in this area, Syntegra’s UKAS-accredited testers can also advise you on how to improve the acoustics of a site.

Environmental impact assessment

If the site at which a new residential building is intended to be constructed has been used for residential purposes in the past, the environmental impact assessment report is not so much of an issue.

This specialist planning report is needed if there are to be changes in the use of a piece of land – for example, if the site of a former office building is to be given a new lease of life as a block of flats.

In this event, the planning risks of potential legal challenges and financial issues that may arise from the changing use of a plot of land can be analysed within the environmental impact assessment report so that the local authority can be reassured that disruption to the surrounding area of a construction site will be minimal.

What else can Syntegra do for me?

Here, we’ve just focused on a few of the specialist planning reports that would be needed if a multi-storey residential property was to be built close to an airport, but here at Syntegra, we have a whole host of other services available that could benefit you and your project.

Remember that depending on the height of the proposed building, it may also need a wind analysis report conducting – something else that our team of experts can help with.

Other specialist planning reports that we can carry out include the Green Travel Plan, ecology and habitat survey report, and hydrology and flood risk assessments, to name just a few. It is important to note that each of these would be required for a high-rise block of flats located close to an airport.

In addition, we can also provide you with advice on the technical guidance relating to a project, as well as local planning policy guidelines. As these differ from borough to borough, it is advisable to seek consultation from experts in the field like ourselves to make sure you are remaining 100 per cent compliant with local regulations.

What’s more, Syntegra Consulting is just one of our four divisions housed under the Syntegra umbrella, as we can also provide energy certification, energy utilities and energy contracting services too.

If you’d like to find out more about how Syntegra can help you and your project, contact us today for a free quote on 0845 009 1625 or at mail@syntegra-epc.co.uk.

Photo credit: Thinkstock/Maksymka

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