West End 'green corridor' could ease London's air pollution problem
A coalition of London property owners has announced plans to promote green infrastructure in the capital in the hope of boosting biodiversity and improving air quality for residents.
The ‘Wild West End’ project announced last week will create a ‘green corridor’ across commercial real estate in Regent Street and St James’s and generate more than a hectare of green space in the area.
The Crown Estate, which will take charge of the first phase of the scheme, said the project will create a network of green spaces between the large areas of parkland in central London.
The project is being supported by Mayor of London Boris Johnson and the London Wildlife Trust. Mr Johnson said: “London’s population is at an all-time high, so while we need to build new homes and improve transport infrastructure, we also need better quality green spaces.
“There is absolutely no doubt that parks and green spaces in urban areas improve people’s wellbeing and quality of life.”
The project leaders claim the Wild West End could have an important impact on air quality in the West End, with London’s air air pollution rated some of the worst in Europe.
Research from Chicago found introducing green roofs across 10% of the buildings in the city removed 17,400 mg of nitrogen dioxide per year. Green spaces in Chicago have saved the city as much as £65m per year in public health costs, significantly reducing levels of respiratory problems such as asthma.
The Crown Estate also say the green corridor will improve the wildlife diversity in the capital, with bird and bat boxes and beehives improving biodiversity.
London Wildlife Trust chief executive Gordon Scorer said: “We welcome the Wild West End as a means to demonstrate how wildlife can flourish amidst the hustle and bustle of the city centre, and we are keen to play our part in realizing its ambitions.”
Head of Central London James Cooksey said future urbanisation trends had to carefully consider the impact on the plants and habitats in their environment.
“That’s why we’ve launched the Wild West End,” said Cooksey. “Along with our partners, we’re seeking to ensure that the millions of shoppers, workers and tourists that come to the West End’s densely packed urban environment each week benefit from greater biodiversity by making space for the plants, birds and bees that form a crucial part of the ecosystem in London.”
Building green spaces is also thought to have an impact on property values as well as providing massive potential health benefits. Natural Health England has predicted the NHS could save £2.1bn if every household in England had access to quality green spaces.