The Professional Practice Guidance on Gym Acoustics (ProPG) has been produced to provide developers, operators and Local Authorities with a standardised approach on assessing gym acoustics.
The Acoustics and Noise Consultants (ANC), Institute of Acoustics (IOA) and Chartered Institute of environmental Health (CIEH) have worked together, collaborating across industry, to produce this guidance, which for the first time has standardised an approach for assessing Gym acoustics affecting noise-sensitive adjacencies.
The guidance is based largely on the experience and current state of knowledge of the ANC Working Group. It has been published electronically so that updates can be made to include advances in knowledge, updates to legislation and policy over time.
The Working Group includes a wide range of contributors, including independent private practices, public body practitioners and manufacturers with many years of experience working with Gym clients and dealing with planning applications and complaints relating to Gyms.
Current Government regulations, policy and guidance set clear objectives, but do not attempt to prescribe specific numerical acoustic standards that assist practitioners to achieve those objectives.
The Working Group believes that the approach encouraged by this ProPG will offer suitable guidance in most situations which are likely to be encountered in practice, allowing for a range of approaches to be applied without constraining those with sufficient experience to take different ones.
A key aim of this guidance is to result in a more consistent and preventative approach to acoustic problems, which are in support of the delivery of sustainable development and to assist the successful location of Gyms near to noise sensitive adjacencies, where it is appropriate and to identify where it is not.
Guidance is also included for Developers and Local Authorities to help identify where gym development should generally be avoided, unless there are extensive design considerations.
The new document helps identify potential mitigation and define a standard methodology to follow when dealing with planning assessments and complaints.
Good acoustic design is necessary to achieve a high level of airborne, structure-borne sound and vibration isolation, which is often achievable only with complex design methods that structurally isolate the noise generating activities from the noise sensitive ones, the ANC believes.
In light weight structures or spaces not intended for Gyms this can be extremely challenging. Where successful acoustic separation can be achieved this enables the health and wellbeing benefits of a fitness and exercise space to viably exist near noise sensitive adjacencies, whilst not adversely interfering with activities or quality of life.
The new guidance provides broad advice applicable with the planning framework, but also in investigating complaints in existing buildings, as part of the move to achieving sustainable development into the future.
The trend to place Gyms close to where people live or work often means that noise sensitive receptors are in close proximity, making acoustic separation an important consideration, the acoustics bodies noted.
Building Regulations require specialist advice to be sought between commercial and residential spaces. Suitably Qualified Acousticians (SQA) can provide this advice and the application of this guidance may provide one way to demonstrate this.
This guidance applies a risk-based framework for practitioners to assess whether an existing building is likely to be suitable for Gym use.
This approach may form part of a nuisance investigation but because nuisance is dependent on a number of factors and the context of that situation determining whether a nuisance exists or not is beyond the scope of this guidance.
When considering a suitable location for a Gym, the effect of the activities on sensitive uses nearby or within the same building is of importance.
Where mitigation is required, then the specifications of materials and systems can also be informed by this guidance.
Syntegra’s Head of Acoustics, David Yates said: ‘This guidance helps standardise the approach taken to gym development – an increasingly popular area of the built environment to be located adjacent to noise sensitive spaces.
‘It will be most useful for all involved to follow the same advice so there can be no accusations of bias or inappropriate development if people try to cut corners in the planning application process.
‘Local authorities will be left in no doubt now as to what constitutes best practice. If anyone needs further advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we will happily help.’