5 Steps to Minimise Noise from Multi-Use Games Areas (MUGAs)
The recent increase in popularity of MUGAs across the country has led to a rise of noise-related issues associated with their use. There is little in the way of official guidance for the assessment of MUGA noise affecting nearby residents and so it is generally appropriate to employ a pragmatic, common sense approach to any assessment.
The following 5 noise mitigation strategies are commonly employed to control MUGA noise emissions and minimise the potential for complaints:
The main and most obvious method of reducing the noise impact of MUGAs is to site them as far as possible from nearby residents. The closer MUGAs are to dwellings, the higher the likelihood of complaints. Fields in Trust’s document “Planning and Design for Outdoor Sport and Play” recommend that MUGAs are located a minimum of 30m from the nearest residential property wherever possible. Achieving this 30m is often difficult or not possible for many developments we work on in London and other built up areas where space is at a premium. In these cases, physical mitigation and careful management are key to ensuring acceptable noise levels are achieved.
2. Physical Mitigation
There are a number of mitigation measures that can be built into the MUGA design in order to minimise noise generation or transmission to the nearby dwellings:
- Where space allows, installing barriers and bunds between the MUGA and dwellings can significantly reduce noise emissions. It should be noted that in order for these barriers to be effective they need to cut the line of sight between the residents and people using the MUGA. This often requires the barriers to be at least 3m high. Barriers of this height can be quite imposing and in some cases it may be necessary to strike a balance between noise impact and visual amenity.
- Noise from balls impacting the MUGA fencing can be a significant source of MUGA noise emissions. Wherever possible it is recommended that the panels are constructed of perforated sheet metal or weld mesh in place of a chain-link type fence in order to reduce rattle and ball impact noise. It is also important that anti-vibration (AV) bushings are used to fix the fence panels to the supports. These bushings acoustically dampen the panels and minimise structure-borne noise transmission, which has the effect of reducing the magnitude and duration of the impact noise.
Poorly maintained MUGAs will generally generate significantly more noise than well maintained ones. This is due to a number of factors including damaged panels, loose brackets, worn AV bushings and squeaky gates.
4. Hours of Use
Night-time use of MUGAs is significantly more likely to disturb nearby neighbours than use during the day. Where MUGAs are privately managed this is easily controlled however where MUGAs are intended for public use it can be difficult to ensure that they are only used during the intended hours. One method of naturally controlling hours is to limit artificial lighting, meaning that the MUGA is less likely to be used when it gets dark. However, this carries security risks and should be determined on a case-by-case basis.
5. Residents’ Engagement
Where a new MUGA is proposed close to existing residential properties, a powerful method of reducing the potential noise impact on nearby residents is to ensure that the local community are engaged with the proposals as far as possible. This can be achieved by educating residents on the benefits of MUGAs, making them aware of plans at an early stage and, of course, ensuring that local residents have access to the MUGAs and a simple method of reporting misuse or damage.
We hope you find the above useful. Cass Allen has extensive experience in MUGA noise impact assessments and we have a detailed archive of MUGA noise data that can be used to help inform the design, placement and management of these important facilities. If you would like any further advice or help then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.