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Air quality and planning

Construction and development can have a negative impact on people and the environment. This impact can be minimised if the development is properly managed.

All major developments must carry out an air quality assessment to assess:

  • how much air pollution is emitted.
  • how much exposure to air pollution there will be during and after the development.

Major developments must follow the Mayor of London’s Supplementary Planning Guidance for:

The Tower Hamlets Code of Construction Practice gives more information about minimising the impacts of development on people and the environment.

Air Quality guidance for planning applications 

Read the council's Air Quality planning flowchart.

Documents to be submitted in preparation of a planning application for major developments

  • Air Quality Assessment (AQA)
  • Air Quality Neutral Assessment (AQN)
  • Air Quality Positive Statement
  • Dust Management Plan (DMP)

Guidance documents to be referenced in preparation of a major development

  • National Planning Policy Framework
  • Land Use Planning & Development control: Planning for Air Quality January 2017 IAQM
  • Guidance on Air Quality Monitoring in the Vicinity of Demolition and Construction Sites IAQM
  • Guidance on the Assessment of Dust from Demolition and Construction Version 1.1 June 2016 IAQM
  • London Plan 2021
  • The Control of Dust and Emissions During Construction and Demolition SPG July 2014 (Mayor of London)
  • Sustainable Design and Construction SPG April 2014 (GLA)
  • Air Quality Neutral Planning Support Update: GLA 80371 April 2014
  • LBTH Local Plan (Supplementary Planning Document)
  • LBTH Air Quality Action Plan
  • Technical Guidance 2016 (LLAQM.TG (16))
  • Technical Guidance Note (Monitoring) M8 – EA
  • London Councils Air Quality and Planning Guidance January 2007

Informative Air Quality Assessment (AQA)

An AQA should:

  • Identify site location and give a brief description of the proposed development as it relates to air quality, including a description of all receptors

  • It should include any sensitive receptors and may include ecological receptors. The AQA should also assess the current air quality/dust/odour in the area of the proposed development

  • Give full details of the measures that will be implemented to maintain and to improve air quality in the area of the development

  • Include mitigation measures to protect the air quality inside buildings

  • Identify how the building works, related activities, future operation and use of the development may impact local air quality (prediction of the impact of the proposed development)

  • Identify measures that will be implemented or continue to be implemented after the development is completed with clear timescales of when information will be provided

  • Include an Air Quality (Dust) Risk-Assessment (AQDRA) giving detailed risk assessments for each construction sub-phase as outlined in the Control of Dust and Emissions During Construction SPG 2014, Mayor of London

  • Include current baseline and future year projections of NO2, PM10 and PM2.5 based on monitoring data and the LAEI (20 m2 grid reference)

  • LBTH 2020 data (published in the ASR 2021) should not been used as it does not predict NO2 concentration levels accurately.

  • Model the impact of the development (parking emissions and building emissions) on local air quality using suitable modelling software

  • Ensure the latest date measurements are used and nearest full meteorological datasets (as outlined in the Mayor of London SPG 2014)

  • Ensure the report of the model state:
    • datasets used
    • methodologies (monitoring, modelling, and scenarios)
    • meteorological data
    • background concentrations
    • traffic data (flow, speeds, etc.)
    • dispersion model type

  • Include a quantitative assessment to understand any major affects within the surrounding area.

  • The potential for cumulative construction traffic effects is to be considered and assessed, as required.

  • Ensure the approach to working out major effects from construction effects are based on the number of demolition and construction trips of each cumulative scheme considered.

  • Work out the projected traffic flows from cumulative schemes should be gathered based on information available in the public domain

  • Ensure the applicant contacts the relevant developers of cumulative schemes to obtain required information if such information is not yet publicly available.

Informative Air Quality Neutral (AQN)

The Mayor of London has published Supplementary Planning Guidance on sustainable design and construction.

This includes a requirement that new developments in London are air quality neutral. All major new developments, taken to be 10 or more dwellings or 1,000sq metres or more floor space for all other developments, will have to calculate the building and transport emissions and compare these with a benchmark for development.

The calculations cover the emissions of nitrogen oxides and PM10. The guidance also sets emission limits for boilers and centralised energy plant.

They should take into account the effects (including cumulative effects) of pollution on health and the natural environment or general amenity. They also need to consider the potential sensitivity of the area or proposed development to adverse effects from pollution.

Informative air quality positive statement

The applicant should be aware of:

  • the London Plan with particular reference to policy SI 1
  • the London Mayor's Environment Strategy with particular reference to Policy 4.3.3a, with regards to new developments being 'air quality positive'
  • the air quality recommendations in the Tower Hamlets Local Plan 2031: Managing Growth and Sharing the Benefits (2020) in particular policy ES2 - improving air quality.

Dust Management Plan (DMP)

A Dust Management Plan (DMP) based on an AQDRA should be submitted and approved in writing by the council.

The DMP must cover the measures that will be taken to reduce the impacts on air quality during the construction phase. The DMP will:

Carry out air quality monitoring before, during and after demolition and construction works (and a month prior to commencement of any works on site).

Parameters to be monitored, duration, locations and monitoring techniques must be approved in writing by the council before monitoring starts.

Minor developments

All construction works should be carried out in line with The Control of Dust and Emissions During Construction and Demolition SPG July 2014 (GLA) to avoid air pollution and dust nuisance.

All Developments (major and minor developments)

Air quality mitigation measures

For developments located in an area where pollution levels are high and close to or above the national objectives, future occupiers must be protected from air pollution exposure while living in their properties.

A scheme of proposed mitigation measures to protect the future occupiers from air pollution exposure should be submitted to and approved in writing by the council. Changes on the building layout and drawings might be necessary.

The approved mitigation scheme shall be implemented in its entirety in line with details approved under this condition before any of the development is first occupied or use starts. This will remain in place after this takes happens.

Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM)

All Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) used during the course of the development that is within the scope of the Greater London Authority ‘Control of Dust and Emissions during Construction and Demolition’ Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) dated July 2014, or any subsequent amendment or guidance, shall comply with the emission requirements therein.

All Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) and plant to be used on the site of net power between 37kW and 560kW has been registered on the London GOV Non-Road Mobile Machinery page. 

Air Emission Flue Informative

Flues must be at least one metre above the highest part of the nearby buildings. In many circumstances it will need to be significantly higher.

The appropriate stack height should be determined using dispersion modelling, and not only by using the Memorandum on Chimney Heights or the Technical Guidance Note (Dispersion) (known as a D1 calculation). These are not suitable when considering annual mean NO2 concentrations.

Flues should not be ‘hidden’ behind structures likely to affect the spread of emissions. 

Air quality standards for boilers

Any gas-fired boilers installed within the development should not exceed the maximum emission standard of <40mgNOx/kWh.

The boilers should be maintained so they don't exceed the relevant standards for the lifetime of the development.