UCL London


Camden residents help find solutions to pollution

Communities in Central London are actively engaged in finding ways to improve air quality in their neighbourhood.

Photo of a busy road in Camden, London

3 October 2018

Working with UCL academics, people in the Somers Town neighbourhood of Camden are testing a new approach to tackling environmental problems called Engineering Comes Home (ECH). 

The approach is designed to ensure that non-experts are meaningfully engaged in the design and application of new technologies and infrastructure. It encourages communities to co-design solutions in partnership with academics and other experts, and to become actively involved at the very start of the process.

The aim is to establish the wishes and needs of the local community, and then work with them on developing ways to meet those needs.

The ECH approach was successfully tested in 2017 through a pilot project run with residents of Meakin Estate, in Southwark, South London. The process resulted in a smart rainwater harvesting system for the estate’s community garden. Now, for the first time, the approach is being applied to tackling pollution.

"Air quality is a critical concern, particularly in London," said Dr Sarah Bell from the Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources. "The impacts of air pollution on child development are known and highly concerning. Somers Town has two secondary schools, three primary schools (each with a nursery) and two other nurseries. Some 2,000 young people come to Somers Town daily to use these schools and services."

Dr Bell and team are working with the Somers Town Neighbourhood Forum on co-ordinating plans for improving air quality. "One key element has been producing a report on behalf of residents reviewing previous air quality impact studies in the area,’ said Dr Bell. ‘This will help them engage with Camden Council and developers."

Read more about how UCL is helping Londoners breathe easy or browse all case studies.