School approved on site that breaks air pollution limits

The Londonist is reporting that Croydon Council is to build a new school on the site of a previous primary which closed due to pollution health concerns.

Croydon Council has given the green light to build a school for more than 500 pupils next to one of the capital’s most polluting arterial roads — on the site of a previous primary which was closed down six years ago because the location was considered too big a health risk for children.

Data compiled independently by King’s College London shows that air quality at the proposed site, beside the four-lane Purley Way, regularly breaks European laws on pollution. On one day at the end of February nitrogen dioxide levels on that stretch of the road were more than double legal limits.

But council officials in Croydon told a Town Hall meeting last week that if walking to the school, children “will receive insignificant exposure to pollutants”.

And one Labour councillor told concerned residents attending the meeting that they should “not get over-emotional about it”, before voting through planning permission for the £22m school.

The Purley Way Academy in Croydon, to be run by the Harris Federation, will open this September in temporary accommodation for its initial intake of three forms of five-year-olds while what could be Britain’s first “hermetically sealed” school is built.

…special measures are being considered to seal the pupils in the building, which is to be “internally ventilated” to keep the worst of the air pollution outside. The children’s outside activity and play areas would be placed further back from the Purley Way…

According to an unnamed environmental health officer working for Croydon Council in a report which recommended granting planning permission, “Due to the open nature of the area and the prevailing south-westerly wind, dispersion and deposition of particles and nitrogen dioxide is good, ensuring that pollution levels are much lower than other parts of the borough, despite the amount of traffic.”…

Data for the past month, as collated by King’s College London, shows that the Purley Way exceeded EU limits on NO2 levels on 22 days out of the last 28. The only days when the Purley Way has not exceeded EU healthy air standards have tended to be weekends…

More at School Approved On Site That Breaks Air Pollution Limits


We need new schools and need them in areas where there is most need – which are often urban and densely populated – but the danger then is that they also have potentially dangerous levels of air pollution.

What do you think of the decision that has been made here and the measures that will be taken to help protect the staff and students?

Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

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  1. ‘The toxic mix of pollution from vehicle exhausts, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, is proven to be particularly damaging to the developing lungs of young children, and is thought to be the cause of rising levels of child asthma in built-up areas.’
    But we mustn’t get ‘over emotional’ said the councillor.
    ‘Despite efforts to reduce the levels of air pollution caused by traffic, parts of London have regularly failed to meet air quality standards set by the EU.

    And traffic along the Purley Way is unlikely to diminish any time soon: Croydon Council and Transport for London have recently agreed a £85m scheme to widen the road, less than half a mile from the proposed site of the school.’

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