Saturday 15 February 2020

'Don't tarmac our pavements' - petition to Brent Council

The battle over tarmac is not over yet! A petition has been mounted to persuade Brent Council that replacing broken paving is a better environmental option than laying tarmac. The petiton is authored by Sonia  Locke, Planning Representative, Willesden Green Residents' Association.

The petition can be found  HERE and states:

Brent Residents are calling for the immediate cessation of tarmac as a paving solution within the borough.

In 2016, the use of tarmac was agreed by Brent’s Cabinet establishing all footway resurfacing would see paving slabs replaced with asphalt. This policy not only inextricably alters the visual quality and character of the public realm, it fails to consider or acknowledge the well documented, harmful effects to the health and well being of Brent constituents and the overall environment. While Brent claims the use of tarmac is a more ecological solution, research indicates its environmental hazards make it an unsafe one. Given the indications, how does the use of tarmac fit in with Brent’s July 2019 climate declaration?

Tarmac is an oil-based product, detrimental to the environment and unlike paving slabs, stone or concrete, unable to be reused or recycled. When laid, tarmac releases toxic fumes and its ability to absorb heat adds to urban overheating. Furthermore, tarmac is impermeable contributing to flooding, an already challenging issue for Brent. Due to the flexibility of the material, ground movement easily undermines the integrity of tarmac causing substantial cracks, bulges and surface deformities that make for unsafe, if hazardous passageways. In cold weather, it is more slippery than concrete or stone pavers.

Public space is a key element to Brent’s overall plan for urban regeneration and social wellbeing. Surfaces play a vital role in its visual and tactile quality. Tarmac does not fit the requirements of Brent’s SPD1 which calls for public realm quality. Tarmac is a cheap, inappropriate solution for pavements and is often viewed as detrimental to the visual quality of the public realm. Brent must look to other neighbouring London councils’ examples of public realm quality expectations and mirror their strategy. Brent need not continue to define itself as the borough of deprivation and poor quality.

In the short term, tarmac may be a cheaper solution but what about the long-term costs? Long-term, tarmac requires more maintenance than paving slabs. Neighbouring boroughs impose minimum standards and value and Brent must follow suit and not simply look to the cheapest, short term solution available. It iswell documented that pavers are more durable than tarmac but unlike tarmac, pavers can be re-used and at the end of its life cycle, 100% of the material can be recycled.

As we see in more affluent areas of Brent, concrete pavers can and are being reused. While Brent is replacing large stretches of paving stones with tarmac in low-income areas, they are maintaining paving stones in the more prosperous areas. Council tax is the same across the borough and yet Brent continues to show preferential treatment to its wealthier neighbourhoods.

Brent has access to millions of NCIL monies much of which goes unspent every year. Why is Brent Council not encouraging the use of these monies for its proposed use on its infrastructure?

Brent residents are demanding our voices be heard. There is no place in Brent for an inferior product which degrades faster, is detrimental to the environment, reduces the quality and performance of our paths and vandalises the architectural, visual and historical character of our neighbourhoods.

Stop throwing cheap, substandard, non-solutions at us. Brent residents deserve better. We are calling for Brent to immediately cease and desist from further plans to tarmac its infrastructure.

We the undersigned residents of Brent wish to see this policy stopped and reversed with immediate effect.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

We are fortunate to have on Barn Hill a mixed habitat that supports a unique bird : the Green Woodpecker. I have witnessed on many occasions this bird feeding through the joints of paving slabs, where ants, termites and other insects nest and breed. The Green Woodpecker has a long and sticky tongue that gets between the joints of the paving and extracts the insects on which it feeds. It would be disastrous to limit this birds habitat with the introduction of a monolithic asphalt/tarmac covering which would seal its food-source.
Also, please remember that many of our grass verges are planted with trees that depend upon the paving to be permeable, that otherwise with asphalt, would allow most of the rain-water to escape across people's drives and into the drains.