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Car ban planned for 'school streets' in Tower Hamlets

PUBLISHED: 14:00 18 March 2019

The first 'school' street planned by Tower Hamlets Council which turned this cul-de-sac in Limehouse into a safe area outside the school gates. Picture: Google

The first 'school' street planned by Tower Hamlets Council which turned this cul-de-sac in Limehouse into a safe area outside the school gates. Picture: Google

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A whole raft of traffic restrictions near schools is planned by Tower Hamlets Council to cut the volume of passing cars when pupils are around.

Pupils plant cherry tree and turn the cul-de-sac outside Sir William Burrough School into a safe play area. Picture: LBTHPupils plant cherry tree and turn the cul-de-sac outside Sir William Burrough School into a safe play area. Picture: LBTH

Fixed Penalty notices would be issued to drivers who breach the proposed measures outside the school gate — aimed mainly at parents dropping off and collecting children each day.

The measures include one-way streets to “reduce conflicting traffic movement” as well as banning traffic when pupils arrive in the morning and leave at home time.

“Introducing ‘school streets’ is part of our strategy to tackle pollution,” mayor John Biggs said. “Toxic air can damage children’s lungs in the long-term.”

The authority is earmarking £200,000 for measures to reduce traffic outside primary schools, starting this year in 12 locations.

Creating a children's colourful play area in Salmon Street cul-de-sac outside their school. Picture: LBTHCreating a children's colourful play area in Salmon Street cul-de-sac outside their school. Picture: LBTH

The first ‘school street’ was set up in Limehouse in December when children planted a cherry tree outside Sir William Burrough School in the middle of Salmon Road, a cul de sac off Salmon Lane.

The council said at the time that the turning was being “permanently closed” to reduce idling cars. But the 50ft long dead-end turning could never actually have any through traffic or even parked cars—it already had yellow painted zig-zag stripes banning parking as well as barriers.

Making it into a ‘school street’ did, however, create a useful ‘play’ street for the children who helped design it with trees, benches and a mural.

The cul-de-sac is the first of 12 ‘school streets’ planned across the East End in the next four years, mainly targeting parents.

The council’s tough traffic policy was introduced after research by Kings College London showing children from the polluted areas having five to 10 per cent reduced lung capacity than youngsters elsewhere.

A GLA report into air pollution finally released in 2016 showed five East End schools being the worst affected in London with 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 report was originally produced in 2013 — but 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.

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