Clean Air Day – 16th June 2022
Today marks the UK’s largest air pollution campaign, bringing together communities, businesses, schools and the health sector to mark Clean Air Day today, the 16th June. Our Leeds Director, Leah Stuart has shared some insights with us below following last week’s Footprint+ Conference along with more information on the ways we are reducing air pollution here at Civic Engineers…
At the Footprint+ Net Zero conference in Brighton last week I was fortunate to be part of two panels speaking about Leeds. The first talked about the Our Spaces Strategy, which sets out a framework of ‘people first’ streets and spaces, bringing more green into the city centre. We talked about the new space at Meadow Lane, where a car park has been transformed into a beautifully planted garden. The newly completed Corn Exchange and the soon-to-open David Oluwale footbridge are the most recent projects to be completed in this ambitious strategy. Leeds is increasingly a great place to spend time and explore on foot.
At the second panel, we discussed Citu’s Climate Innovation District just east of the city centre. The key move in this pioneering low carbon residential development has been taking cars out of the spaces between houses. This means that communities can safely play and come together, enjoying a shared garden space.
All these places are not only fantastic to look at; they also deliver social and economic value. And it’s important not to underestimate their impact on the collective health of Leeds’ citizens.
It’s Clean Air Day today. In the UK, poor air quality is estimated to lead to 36,000 premature deaths per year, and is linked to heart attacks and strokes. Road traffic is responsible for most of the pollutants which are so hazardous to health. It’s essential to public wellbeing and, by extension, our economy, that we rethink our towns and cities to move away from vehicle dominated streets.
Here are 5 ways that we are reducing air pollution at Civic Engineers, from wider spatial planning, to looking at how we work within our own organisation:
- Writing policies to plan for 15-minute neighbourhoods – if facilities are within easy reach, people don’t have to travel by car
- Re-designing streets to provide safe and direct walking and cycling routes – this will take cars off the road as shorter journeys become better on foot or by bike
- Introducing nature-based drainage and street trees – trees and plants help clean our air and water, make places look better and are more enjoyable to spend time in
- Designing for and supporting low car lifestyles through our Travel Planning work
- Being Flexible – our better normal policy embraces hybrid working to reduce the need to travel
Leeds Our Spaces and the Climate Innovation District show how ambitious planning and design can have a real impact on the quality of places, and that this can have a real impact on how people behave and how they choose to travel. Places that work well have cleaner air and are healthier and happier as a result.