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Time to act on traffic noise marring London’s parks

15 September 2015

CPRE London has used a new CPRE map to show how far the city’s public green spaces are no longer tranquil.

A list of the 10 London parks most affected by traffic noise has been published by campaigners [1].

In the list drawn up by the London branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Figge’s Marsh in Mitcham came out on top, closely followed by Archbishop’s Park in Lambeth and Clapham Common. Green Park, Wandsworth Park and Blackheath are also among those most severely plagued by road noise.

In the case of Clapham Common, just a tiny space in the middle of the large and popular park is tranquil and free from traffic noise. Green Park is almost totally affected, while Figge’s Marsh is completely covered by traffic noise.

As research shows that people are less likely to use green spaces degraded by noise [2], CPRE London is calling for new measures to make roads quieter and preserve the tranquillity of the capital’s green spaces. CPRE London is also calling for 20mph to become the norm on roads within Royal Parks.

The top 10 list has been created using new Defra data, which are most visibly demonstrated by a new CPRE map that shows the impact of busy road noise across London [3]. The list has been defined by the extent to which the total area of the park is affected by noise from busy roads.

London lags behind other European cities in tackling road noise. Hamburg, for example, has recently started construction on enclosing a 3.5km section of its Autobahn to reduce noise and create allotments and green space on top [4]. There have been moves to designate places as quiet areas within local plans in London but this has not yet fed through to influence the way traffic is managed.

Georgia Wrighton, Director of CPRE London, said:

“London has some of the finest parks in the world but many are blighted by relentless traffic noise. Our precious green spaces should be places to get away from it all - not a place where you have to put your headphones on to drown out the traffic and a face mask on to escape the pollution.

“Each park is different but there are lots of practical measures that can be taken to tackle noise and reduce associated air pollution. We can lower speed limits and install noise barriers, or introduce landscaped earth mounds and attractively designed walls or hedges. In some cases, roads could even be re-routed, like proposals for the road running through Stoke Newington Common in Hackney.

“Research shows that people are less likely to use green spaces that are degraded by noise, so the physical and mental health benefits of getting into the fresh air are being lost.”

On Hyde Park, Georgia said:

“Although Hyde Park is not in the top ten because its sheer size means it has a tranquil core, there’s a lot more we can do to reduce noise in London’s most famous park. Reducing the anomalous 40mph speed limit on the northbound side of Park Lane to 30mph would be a great start, while 20mph should become the norm on roads within the Royal Parks themselves. Restoring tranquillity in our parks is an important step on the way to making London more liveable.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] The list of parks worst affected by road noise within Greater London is as follows:

1. Figge’s Marsh, Mitcham
2. Archbishop’s Park, Lambeth
3. Clapham Common, Lambeth/Wandsworth
4. Stoke Newington Common, Hackney
5. Wandsworth Park, Wandsworth
6. Green Park, Westminster
7. Welsh Harp Reservoir Open Space, Brent
8. Osterley Park, Hounslow
9. Gunnersbury Park, Hounslow
10. Blackheath, Greenwich

The list considered parks and commons with over 2 hectares of green space - rather than recreation grounds (e.g. pitches) or open spaces (not necessarily green or run as parks, such as the Chelsea Pensioners Garden, which is semi-private).

Ranking has been calculated on the proportion of accessible greenspace (including lakes) within park boundaries affected by greater than 55dB daytime road noise, using modelling published in August 2015 by Defra, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

[2] Report for Noise Association (2008): http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/transport/roads/item/1862-traffic-noise-in-rural-areas

[3] The map also highlights which roads are the responsibility of London authorities and which – such as the M4 – have been the responsibility of Highways England since April this year.

[4] More information from Hamburg City Council in English here: http://www.hamburg.de/contentblob/4018374/data/12-08-broschuere-gesamtprojekt-freiraum-und-ruhe-english.pdf

For more information please contact Georgia Wrighton at CPRE London on 020 7253 0300, or Ralph Smyth, transport campaign manager at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), on 020 7981 2819.

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