This paper introduces regulatory components influencing city soundscapes in Europe and the UK, illustrating the abatement approach taken within noise policy, demonstrating the importance of individual experience in assessing the soundscapes of urban environments and identifying a terminology to facilitate an introduction of soundscapes into the planning process. Drawing on work from soundscape ecology, a way is demonstrated to coalesce these divergent positions. Reviewing interviews undertaken in Clerkenwell, the paper demonstrates that it is not simply noise levels that are important to people in an urban area. Context, source, distance, temporariness and control over noise, are all relevant to whether people would want to see a particular sound eliminated from their soundscape. Using Schafer's terminology 'keynote sounds', 'soundmarks' and 'sound signals', a rationale is proposed through which experienced soundscapes may be articulated, challenging the strategy of noise abatement which could produce a conformity of soundscape that homogenises place and dissolves local uniqueness.\ud This paper arises from research undertaken as part of the EPSRC project ‘Vivacity 2020: urban sustainability for the 24 hour city’ GR/S18380/01(P)
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