Schoolchildren plant a cherry tree to create their own ‘play street’ in Limehouse
- Credit: LBTH
Schoolchildren have planted a cherry tree in Limehouse to create the East End’s first ‘school’ street to play in, safe from traffic.
Salmon Street, a cul-de-sac off Salmon Lane which leads up to Sir William Burrough Primary school behind the busy A13 Commercial Road, had already been closed off to traffic by Tower Hamlets Council.
But it’s gone a stage further and has now been turned into a play street for children, with the pupils planting a sapling in the middle of the colourful surface.
The aim is to tackle air pollution—although the 50ft long dead-end turning never actually had any through traffic or even parked cars.
But it does make a useful place to play for the children who helped design it with trees, benches and a mural.
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The cul-de-sac is the first of several ‘school’ streets planned across the East End in the next four years, mainly targeting parents themselves who drive their youngsters to school.
“Some roads will be closed entirely to traffic,” mayor John Biggs warned. “Others will have timed restrictions to help reduce air pollution caused by parents dropping off their children.”
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The council’s tough traffic policy was introduced two years ago after research by Kings College London showing children from the most polluted areas having five to 10 per cent less lung capacity than youngsters in other parts of London.
Cllr Rachel Blake, cabinet member for air quality who joined the mayor for the Salmon Street planting, said: “It’s shocking that children’s health is more badly affected here than in wealthier areas. ‘School’ streets will help screen off some air pollutants and create safe places to play.”
A GLA report into air pollution released in 2016 showed five East End schools being the worst affected in London with acute levels of toxic air. These were Canon Barnett in Whitechapel, English Martyrs at Tower Hill, Woolmore and Holy Family both in Poplar, and Sir John Cass at Aldgate in the City.
The 2013 report had been locked away in City Hall by former mayor Boris Johnson for almost three years and was only discovered after Sadiq Khan took office.