Planning for better air quality

In the last five years air quality has become a highly topical issue, driving local and national policy and legislation. Having an up to date and detailed understanding of the regime has become crucial to successful scheme promotion and delivery. Air quality - and specific air pollution sources - will need to be considered in any new or redevelopment scheme. 

Take a look at our tips for avoiding project delays and incurring unforeseen costs.

✔ Top tips

  • Be aware of Air Quality Management Areas and, in London, Air Quality Focus Areas. These are areas where air quality is particularly bad and should be considered carefully.
  • Try to design the scheme to increase the set-back distance of sensitive-use buildings from air pollution sources (e.g. a busy road).
  • Where possible design the internal layout to increase the distance of “habitable rooms” from air pollution sources. For example by placing corridors, stairwells, bathrooms, utility rooms, cellars etc. on the worst affected façade. Similarly, consider less-sensitive uses for the lower floor(s).
  • Take expert advice early in the development process. 

× Things to avoid

  • Don’t get too far into the design process before considering air quality constraints – it’s usually most cost-effective to build in mitigation as early as possible.  
  • For mechanically ventilated buildings, don’t put air intakes in locations close to air pollution sources.
  • Don’t forget to consider whether there are any odour, dust or bioaerosol sources near to your site. There are sometimes recommended set back distances between sources and certain land uses.
  • Don’t create a street canyon or an area that could trap pollutants at receptors.

When is an Air Quality Assessment needed?

Click to view our helpful guide on the thresholds/criteria for when an Air Quality Assessment is likely to be needed in support of a planning application (not subject to formal EIA or under the Habitats Directive).

Get in touch

Your contact information:

All fields are mandatory *