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Stoke Newington Low Emission Neighbourhood: £500k air quality scheme announced to tackle pollution in and around Church Street

PUBLISHED: 15:26 07 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:30 07 June 2019

Children and parents from William Patten Primary Schools march down Church Street in April to protest against road closure plans they said would worsen air quality. Picture: Polly Hancock

Children and parents from William Patten Primary Schools march down Church Street in April to protest against road closure plans they said would worsen air quality. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Stoke Newington Church Street could end up out of bounds to the worst polluting vehicles as part of a £500,000 project announced today to clean up the air in the north of the borough.

Stoke Newington Church Street. Picture: Ken MearsStoke Newington Church Street. Picture: Ken Mears

Hackney Council has been given the cash from Sadiq Khan's air quality fund, and is also considering installing electric charging points, a cargo bike hire scheme, and improvements to public spaces to encourage walking and cycling - as well as anti-idling measures at the high street's junction with Church Street.

But the most high-profile aspect of the scheme is likely to be whatever is eventually done to take polluting vehicles off Church Street.

A two-year battle has been raging over the road's air quality, sparked by parents who feared road closures further south would worsen emissions around William Patten Primary School. The actual details of the scheme will be thrashed out during a public consultation over the summer, Hackney said today. It is understood these could include anything from banning lorries to only allowing buses through at certain times.

It was announced in the wake of an event Mr Khan held at the nine-month-old City Fringe Low Emission Neighbourhood (LEN) in Shoreditch, where petrol and diesel vehicles are banned.

Nurull Islam from Mile End Community Project meets Sadiq Khan, who was visiting the City Fringe Low Emissions Neighbourhood. Picture: Roy ChackoNurull Islam from Mile End Community Project meets Sadiq Khan, who was visiting the City Fringe Low Emissions Neighbourhood. Picture: Roy Chacko

Mr Khan said: "I'm delighted that our air quality fund is helping boroughs clean up some of our most polluted streets, making them safer for pedestrians and cyclists, providing electric vehicle charging points and supporting businesses and residents in adopting cleaner modes of transport."

Hackney's transport and public realm chief Cllr Jon Burke was among those who braved the rain for a walkabout with Mr Khan in Shoreditch this morning.

He applauded the measures to work with the community to deal with the problem.

He said: "We're thrilled to have been awarded additional funding to improve air quality in Stoke Newington, where we're going to be making it easier to walk and cycle and, in consultation with local people, investigating how we can restrict polluting vehicles on Church Street."

Sadiq Khan and council environment chiefs Cllr Claudia Webbe (Islington, left) and Cllr Jon Burke (Hackney, in beige) visit the City Fringe Low Emissions Neighbourhood. Picture: Roy ChackoSadiq Khan and council environment chiefs Cllr Claudia Webbe (Islington, left) and Cllr Jon Burke (Hackney, in beige) visit the City Fringe Low Emissions Neighbourhood. Picture: Roy Chacko

The £6million funding for more Low Emission Neighbourhoods across London is the final round of the £22m air quality fund spread out over 10 years, which has delivered projects across London and has now supported the creation of nine Low Emission Neighbourhoods and 60 other projects to improve the capital's air quality.

Chair of the London Assembly environment committee Caroline Russell supported the announcement but stressed that this should only be the starting point for new measures.

She said: "The environment committee has repeatedly pushed for more to be done to respond to the air quality crisis and we are encouraged by the wide range of projects being funded in this announcement.

"But we cannot move fast enough or urgently enough to address this pressing issue, and the mayor needs to continue to ensure his response to this crisis is a top priority."

The City Fringe Low Emission Neighbourhood: Traders' take

While in Shoreditch this morning, Mr Khan spoke to traders in the City Fringe Low Emission Neighbourhood.

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Max Bergius, owner of Secret Smokehouse Fish Curers and Smokers, drives an all electric van subsidised by the scheme to transport his goods and says he finds it very "zen".

He told the mayor he doesn't need to panic when he's stuck in traffic because there's no worry he'll run out of petrol.

Nurull Islam uses his cargo bike, also supported by the scheme, to transport sporting equipment and other items for the Mile End Community Project.

The project helps people express themselves creatively to counter stereotypes about Muslims.

He said: "I love the ability to take stuff to spaces you can't take vehicles, and the best thing is it keeps me healthy."

Nurull was able to use the bike to transport refreshments into a cemetery where they were presenting one of their films.

He hopes to use it to start the first mobile cinema project.

Zoe Anderson, owner of homeware boutique WA Green, loves the community feel in the LEN zone.

She enjoys the slower pace in the zone that allows customers to linger in the area.

She said: "I'm a big a fan of being able to mooch.

"London is so hectic that people appreciate the unexpected feeling of slowing down."

The council placed planters in front of her shop to help slow down traffic but they were quickly filled with graffiti.

So she partnered with local artists to decorate them instead and now every six weeks a different piece of artwork is shown.

Zoe said that once the streets open up to traffic the area changes drastically: "Come 7pm, it becomes a procession of Priuses."

She said it would be better if the streets were closed to traffic until 9pm, and said it would make the area a lot safer.

Drew Morgan uses his cargo bike to transport photography and lighting for Gripvan.

He said: "It takes me 17 minutes to get to the same place it used to take me 90 minutes to get to in a van."

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