Light and noise pollution plagues Barbican Estate


April’s Barbican Association (BA) AGM provided the opportunity to give the residents a glimpse of what is in store for us over the coming year.  

Jane Smith is our BA chair and gave us a rundown of all the City initiatives and proposals that the BA had influenced over the past for residents’ benefit.

Averil Baldwin gave us an update on the Centre for Music and I’m concerned to note that the planned commercial element on the top of the centre (to make it financially viable) is going to be taller than Thomas More House.  I suppose it depends on “how much taller”!

The City of London School for Girls’ possible plans for Thomas More car park were, of course, one of the main agenda points of interest for residents and, although everything is still up in the air and undecided, Andy Hawkins invited all residents to a meeting to discuss progress and future action on 17 May in Cripplegate church at 7.30pm.  

On our ongoing battle with London Underground’s Tube noise, Richard Collins is again on the ball, and Adrian Bastow, who is a councillor for Aldersgate Ward, is also taking up the challenge on behalf of residents.  Over the last few weeks, Adrian has visited many of those who have reported problems, and has described to us how shocking some of the noise levels are.  

He is escalating the issue with the City to try and use their clout and sponsorship to get something done. Personally, I haven’t suffered excessively with the Tube noise as it has just been a comforting rumble in the background, but Adrian mentioned one flat where the noise has changed over recent years and is now as loud as a rock concert; I think I’d go mad!

It may only be a few residents who suffer this level over the estate, but we should do all we can to support them with their TfL trials. We’re also starting to lobby for a lift at Barbican Tube and a petition will be coming your way soon.

Helen Kay managed to find the time in between reading volumes of documents weekly to summarise what’s been going on with planning, and in particular the light pollution problem residents suffer on the periphery of the estate.

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The ‘anti-pollution’ garden on Moor Lane is being trialed as part of the Low Emissions Neighbourhood scheme.

Sarah Hudson is our very well qualified member dealing with sustainability and the Low Emissions Neighbourhood (LEN), to which the City and even the London Mayor seem very committed at the moment. LEN comes to an end in March 2019 and there is a proposal to trial an ultra-low emission (ULE) street in Moor Lane next summer.  

MACE are creating a fruit and veg garden for residents on the Moor Lane Bridge, columns of 45 Beech Street will be greened this summer and Prior Weston School have an ivy screen to shield the playground from the dust from the Taylor Wimpey development.

Air quality was among topics high on the agenda at this year’s City-wide residents’ meeting on Wednesday 9 May. Speakers included the Mayor of London’s air quality manager, elected members and police. David Bradshaw, along with his many committee duties as Deputy of Cripplegate Ward, also monitors security on the estate for the BA and gave us an update on our blissfully low crime and antisocial behaviour rate.

I must say, I prefer this type of BA AGM, where lots of folk get to give us updates; it makes me realise how much work goes on behind the scenes on our behalf. After elections for the voluntary posts for this year, we all enjoyed the traditional few glasses of wine; thanks to Pat and John Spicer who organised the wine and the carting of glasses (and doing the washing up afterwards)!

Minutes of the AGM will be available shortly on the BA website at

On to May’s social calendar and remember to diarise the delayed launch event on Monday 14 May between 4pm-8pm (at Thomas More car park and then at Ironmongers Hall) for our new electric vehicle charging points.

We’ll get a demonstration on how to use the points, and of electric vehicles (EVs) in general, and experts will be around during the event to answer any questions.

It sounds like there will be tea and coffee because the phrase “light refreshments will be provided” was used; perhaps understandable since is it an event related to driving! The Low Emission Neighbourhood project is funding this installation as a pilot project and there will be 30 charging points in five car parks to see what the usage and feedback is like.

From the Barbican Residents’ Electric Vehicle Survey, we know that at least 16 residents own a plug-in electric vehicle (including hybrid) right now, which is not many.  

The more important result from the survey, however, is that almost all the respondents who are going to be replacing their car in the next few years would seriously consider an electric vehicle.  

I would, myself, so I don’t find that surprising; this is definitely happening and I’m sure most of us will be moving with the tide. The only concern I have is that the pace of change in our purchasing is matched by the provision of the right type of points; I have a vague fear of “charging point rage” down the line and I salute our lobbying residents for getting the City started on this now rather than later.

With service charges, council tax and TV license renewals all due about now, I wanted to share a gem I discovered when I had to MOT my car recently.  

MOT Test Centre Council King’s Cross is run by Camden Council so it has no vested interest in making you pay for unnecessary work, and I found them to be cost-effective, efficient and very professional.

One final word on current events: the City is starting to think about enforcing the lease on wooden floors and pets in a more rigorous manner (like they clamped down and monitor short-term lets) so if you have any opinions on this or need an update, then chat to your House Reps.

london magazineHelen Hudson has lived in Defoe House on and off since the 1980s, and is the residents’ representative for Defoe on the Barbican Association General Council.

Cover image by Riodamascus (Creative Commons).