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University of Bradford study could help protect tranquil spaces from development

Published: Wed 15 Oct 2014

The Bradford Centre for Sustainable Environments at the University of Bradford is pioneering a method that planning authorities and conservationists could use to measure the impact of developments on the tranquillity enjoyed by residents and visitors of an area.

The new method involves establishing the existing level of tranquillity of a location based not only on noise levels but also visual amenity, such as the existing landscape, and establishes a ‘footprint’.

The method then predicts the impact on that footprint and how it might be reduced by a development, such as wind turbines, and at what distance the development would have to be sited for the original tranquillity enjoyed by people to be restored.

The importance of tranquil spaces in providing health and wellbeing benefits has recently been recognised in the National Planning Policy Framework and the threat to them from development has prompted research into tranquillity mapping. The Framework states that planning decisions should aim to identify and protect areas of tranquillity that have remained relatively undisturbed.

The University of Bradford study, led by Professor Greg Watts and assisted by Dr Robert Pheasant, combined a number of techniques, including noise measurement software and photographic surveys, to demonstrate the feasibility of producing contour maps of tranquillity.

Professor Watts said: “Using contour maps it will be possible to identify quality tranquil spaces and regular updates to the maps will enable external threats to be identified and action taken. Defining a tranquillity footprint has in the past been difficult due to the lack of a prediction method that takes into account both acoustic and visual factors in a precise and quantifiable manner. However, our tranquillity rating prediction tool (TRAPT) has the potential to help planning authorities and conservationists quantify the impact of new developments.”

Full details can be obtained from the recently-published paper at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003682X14002473

 

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