Udenson Caldbeck Associates (UCA) developed the Oaklands Road Playable Street Project on behalf of Cricklewood Town Team, and successfully bid for funding from the London Borough of Brent’s Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy Fund in 2019.
The project was devised to address long-standing problems associated with the congested environment, air pollution and lack of public space in Cricklewood town centre. Completed in early 2021, it has pedestrianised part of Oaklands Road by closing off vehicular access from the Broadway to Oaklands Mews, removing high levels of illegal parking, idling, and the dangerous pedestrian crossing at the junction. Rainbow Properties has also provided a living wall on their new development in Oaklands Road, further greening the area and contributing to pollution reduction.
We worked with Airlabs, a world-leading pioneer in air quality management, who provided a study to understand the local airflow dynamics of the site and to monitor pollution using sensors installed both on the site and on Cricklewood Broadway.
A summary of Airlabs’ report is below:
This project was to explore, by means of real time air pollution sensing, any improvement in localised air quality as a result of pedestrianisation of the end of Oaklands Road in Brent, London where it meets Cricklewood Broadway. The target for the improvement was 5%.
Urban air pollution comes in different forms and has different sources, such as traffic, and may be local, come from regional origins or even further afield. Using data from accurate low cost sensors but also comparing to nearby local authority reference stations, we are able to determine causes and sources of this pollution.
Dense urban environments, such as this, can suffer from high pollution, mainly due to large volumes of local traffic and congestion. This project was conceived to create a ‘Liveable Street’ by removing general traffic and improving the urban realm. The pedestrianising started in September 2020 and the construction work was completed by the end of November 2020. This project supports Brent Council’s commitment to improving town centre environments, encouraging walking and cycling and improving air quality. The project was funded by Brent’s Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL).
Concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM2.5 & PM10) were continuously monitored by air quality sensors at two specified locations; Oaklands Road and Cricklewood Broadway (see Figure 1) before, during and after the pedestrianising work. Due to the continual monitoring, it is possible to see minute by minute changes to pollution and the effects of ‘rush hours’ as well as the difference in air quality throughout the rest of the day, how it changes between days of the week and over the different seasons.
Towards the end of March 2020 for the rest of the monitored period, the whole area was under periodic lockdown and normal service resumption because of the Coronavirus pandemic. The pattern of pollution matches these events precisely and the ‘story’ of the local area can be told in this way. As well as this, the construction work can be clearly seen in the data through an increased but temporary volume of particulate pollution.
The following list is a summary of the data from the project. A comprehensive report is also available.
- 20% reduction in NO2 from local sources at Oaklands Road – this is a positive achievement and demonstrates the benefit of removing traffic in this environment
- 13% reduction in O3 from local sources at Oaklands Road – as above, Ozone precursors are caused by traffic in an urban context and a reduction of traffic will reduce ozone
- Clear peaks in NO2 concentrations occurred at 09:00 and 18:00 at Oaklands Road – this diurnal pattern shows the effect of localised traffic peaks and where stop/start congested traffic exacerbate this
- Continuously elevated levels of NO2 from 09:00 till 18:00 at Cricklewood Broadway – whilst peaks can be seen, the main road suffers from pollution due to traffic all day
- Concentrations of PM2.5 & PM10 were generally on the threshold of the annual mean exposure limit suggested by the World Health Organisation (WHO)
The project was successful in meeting the targeted reduction in pollutants and increasing the awareness of the specific environmental context in the area under consideration. Further monitoring in the area will show how these levels change over time related to volume and type of traffic as well as assuring the community on the benefit of their ‘Liveable Street.’