Effects of Noise in Mixed-use Environments

Noise management in mixed-use urban environments: the context

'Mixed-use' urban environments often contain both commercial premises (entertainment, retail, office, hospitality or light manufacturing) and residential uses such as apartments.

As with many countries overseas, urban population densities are increasing. At the same time many commercial activities now want to operate both during the day and at night. Commercial operations may enhance the vitality and culture of urban areas, but they can also create noise problems. These can include sounds from fixed plant and equipment, mobile vehicles and machinery, or worn out (or poorly maintained) equipment such as fans and pumps.

Outdoor activities and noise from car parks can also have significant adverse effects on those living nearby. In some cases the applicable district plan noise limits are not being met by existing activities.

The key parties involved in the generation and management of noise are:

  • those whose activities or property generate the noise
  • those who are or may be affected by noise
  • local authorities.

This guidance note focuses on the obligations to control noise emissions at or near the source, as well as the need for local authorities to adopt sound land use planning practices to monitor and manage noise in mixed-use urban environments. While not addressed in this note, there are also wider planning matters relating to compatible land use planning that are relevant for the management of noise.