McDonalds is one of the biggest food chains in the UK with 1,149 stores nationwide, many of which are located on redeveloped sites near urban areas. One of the issues this can create is noise pollution caused by the activities of customers, vehicles in the car park and drive-thru and the restaurant itself. Since The World Health Organisation linked environmental noise to detrimental impacts on health and wellbeing, finding a solution to mitigate noise has become an important consideration in the planning and design of new premises.
At one of its newly developed restaurants at Cannon Lane in Tonbridge, McDonalds were required by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council planning authority to have a noise impact assessment to determine the effect the operation would have on the local area, including a section of nearby residential properties.
Many factors were included in the assessment, including the two-storey restaurant design, drive-thru facility and the intended 24 hour opening time. With the increase in demand for early breakfasts and late meals from shift workers, having 24 hour opening times is becoming more and more common, with McDonalds now having 467 stores open 24/7, up from just 9 restaurants in 2006; however, for local residents this can lead to an increase in noise during unsociable hours.
The noise impact assessment found that traffic from the nearby main road was the dominant source of noise in the area and that drive-thrus typically generate low levels of noise as the vehicles move slowly and the cars do not open or close doors. It concluded that the primary sources of noise would be created by car doors in the car park and the noise generated by the intercoms used for the drive-thru. To ensure this did not impact on the wellbeing of local residents, the noise assessment recommended that an acoustic barrier at least 2.7m high should be installed on the northern boundary of the site.
Jakoustic® Reflective acoustic barrier was chosen as the best solution to reduce the impact of noise on neighbouring properties. A 42 metre run of the acoustic barrier was installed on the northern boundary next to the car park at a height of 2.7m as specified in the noise impact assessment. The Jakoustic® Reflective barrier reflects noise away using specially designed timber boards, constructed in such a way that eliminates gaps that sound can travel through which can reduce noise pollution by up to 28dB*. Additionally, the acoustic barrier features an attractive timber facade and provides high levels of privacy for the residential properties nearby.
In order to minimise further disruption during unsociable hours, McDonalds ensured that no deliveries were made outside of the hours of 6am and 10pm.
*Jakoustic® barrier certified laboratory results: Rating according to BS EN 1793-2:1998 Category = B3 Laboratory sound reduction 28 dB Superficial mass 25kg/m