Consultations launched over first zero-emissions street and Healthy Neighbourhood plan

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Beech Street could become country's first zero-emissions street
©Clive Totman

Beech Street could become the country’s first zero-emissions street, with plans in place to ban all petrol and diesel vehicles from using the thoroughfare.

An 18-month trial of making Beech Street free of all polluting vehicles began in March 2020, with the aim of lowering “unacceptably high levels” of nitrogen dioxide in the local air.

Now City of London bosses wants to make the ban permanent to clean up one of the Square Mile’s most polluted roads.

Deliveries, access to car parks and forecourts, and rubbish collection are the only permissible activities outlined in the proposals, which are out for public consultation.

In a change to the conditions of the previous experiment, all traffic – including petrol and diesel vehicles – would be allowed to turn left into Beech Street from Golden Lane, in response to feedback from Islington Council.

City of London Corporation Streets and Walkways Sub-Committee Chairman Graham Packham said: “As an enclosed, tunnel-like thoroughfare, Beech Street has long had the unenviable record of being one of the most polluted streets in the City, with unacceptably high levels of nitrogen dioxide.

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©Clive Totman

“Like the previous trial, the scheme we’re proposing would have a significant effect on reducing pollution levels and improving air quality in this part of the Square Mile.

“Doing nothing is not an option – we need to take radical action to ensure residents, workers and visitors to the City can breathe clean, healthy air.”

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The 18-month trial saw nitrogen dioxide levels drop 61 percent to 24.0 µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre) and contributed towards a 42 percent drop since 2016 in NO2 levels in the City as a whole.

It’s not just Beech Street where the City is looking to clean up it’s act.

City Corporation and Islington Council are seeking views on how best to make the Bunhill, Barbican and Golden Lane area a healthier neighbourhood.

Public feedback on everything from pollution and through traffic to public spaces and street quality is being sought, with input going towards a formal plan for the future of the area.

Cllr Rowena Champion, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment, Air Quality, and Transport, said: “We know that the climate emergency is critically urgent, and that we must take action now to adapt our streets so that they are cleaner, greener, and healthier.

“Through the creation of a Bunhill, Barbican and Golden Lane Healthy Neighbourhood, we hope to create streets that are more attractive and welcoming for local people, communities, and businesses, that help improve air quality, climate resilience, and biodiversity.

“Our vision includes improvements to help the local community flourish, such as additional green spaces, unique placemaking features, and changes to make it easier to walk, cycle and wheel.

“Local people are central to these plans, and we’re looking forward to hearing their views on how we can create improved, more environmentally-friendly streets for all.”

Take part in the Beech Street consultation online at www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/beechstreet and the Bunhill, Barbican and Golden Lane Healthy Neighbourhood engagement at www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/healthyneighbourhood

Both consultations are open until 6 March.

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