Monday 21 May 2018

How big a problem is traffic noise in Brent's parks?

The Campaign to Protect Rural England published a report today on traffic noise in London parks.
There is a PDF for each London borough. I have published the Brent report at the end of this article.

The research

· Noise maps were created for all the main parks in London, a total of 885, and set out in a separate document for each borough
· Using official, publicly available data, the noise levels were assessed for each park depending on the proportion of the park which was impacted by noise. Each park was categorised accordingly and the data was collated
· A note was also made where parks were completely free from noise; where the whole park was noisy; and where the noise was particularly loud The findings
· Almost a third – one in three – (29%) of the 885 London parks surveyed are severely impacted by traffic noise (defined as meaning that 50% to 100% of the park is impacted by traffic noise of 55 decibels or above)
· The results were wide-ranged. Sutton has the fewest parks (7%) severely impacted by traffic noise and Enfield has the most (57%)
· South London parks are quieter. All South London Boroughs except one, Lambeth, have a figure below the median for percentage of parks severely impacted by noise (see Table 2 p23)
· Being an Inner or Outer London borough does not mean and having noisier or quieter parks
· Fewer than half (44%) of the London parks surveyed are completely free from traffic noise
· Around one in five (18%) of the parks surveyed are completely noisy i.e. traffic noise of 55 decibels or above can be heard everywhere in the park
· A quarter (25%) of London’s parks are impacted by particularly loud noise defined as being where at least one quarter of the park is impacted by noise of 60 decibels or above

Noise in parks matters because: 
· People are less likely to use parks when they are noisy, so benefits are lost
· The key amenity benefit of access to tranquillity is lost when parks are noisy
· There is strong correlation between noise and air pollution from traffic, so where people are exposed to noise, they are also exposed to air pollution
· Noise contributes towards a range of physical and mental health problems
· Noise impacts negatively on wildlife
· Where the local park is noisy, local communities will de facto be experiencing a deficiency in green space which does not register in assessments


London Boroughs, the Mayor and Transport for London need to work together to:

· Permanently remove traffic from roads impacting parks by re-routing traffic; by introducing traffic filtering (e.g. resident access only, or cycle access and emergency vehicle access only) and speed limits; or by pedestrianising streets near to parks, to reduce traffic levels  
·      Introduce regular, temporary road closures, like Sunday closures of the Mall in St James’ Park

· Investigate ways to mitigate noise, for example by the use of noise barriers, noise reducing road surfaces and natural features, including planting hedgerows Assessments of deficiency / sufficiency in greenspace should include an assessment of the amenity or quality of the green space, including taking noise levels into account. London and National Policy should be revised so that assessments of deficiency in greenspace take account of whether the amenity or quality of the space is seriously impacted by noise (and concomitant air) pollution, rather than simply assessing the amount of space and its distance from residents/users. Green Flag Awards assessments should consider giving more weight to noise reduction and mitigation for parks severely impacted by road noise.

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