Bankside installs new air purifying benches

The London district of Bankside is now benefiting from new air purifying benches which aim to alleviate and raise awareness of air quality issues.

The ‘Better Air Benches’, installed by the local Business Improvement District (BID) Better Bankside and currently in place on Stoney Street near Borough Market, all contain the plant English ivy which absorbs pollutants from the air.

The benches aim to increase greenery in central London and help reduce people’s exposure to air pollution by introducing extra surfaces that capture it.

It is hoped that the benches will also encourage more people to walk through Bankside, which covers the historic streets between Blackfriars and London Bridge.

Donald Hyslop, chair of Better Bankside, said: ‘We’re proud of our new benches. They are beautifully designed, comfortable and, as they are also portable, will be appearing all over Bankside.

‘Air quality is one of the most important issues in our City right now and we are convinced everything that can be done to improve it, large and small, will make a difference in the long run.’

Better Bankside’s ‘Better Air Benches’ contain English ivy to help reduce levels of pollutants in the air. Credit: Better Bankside

The benches are designed by London landscape, art and architecture practice, Wayward + Studio Mata, and have been introduced as part of the London Festival of Architecture.

More benches will gradually be introduced on quiet routes between tube and rail stations and workplaces and landmarks, including a route from Southwark tube station to the area around the Tate Modern.

The benches represent just one of the projects Better Bankside has been overseeing as it aims to create a ‘clean air corridor’ in Bankside.

Last year the BID introduced a waste management scheme which aimed to reduce the number of journeys made by diesel-powered waste collection vehicles.

The scheme looked to replace 14 businesses’ HGV waste collections several times a week with fewer trips made by a single electric vehicle.

Examining data recorded during the project, King’s College London found that it led to a huge 97% drop in nitrogen oxide emissions, while PM emissions were almost halved.

At the time, Peter Williams, CEO of Better Bankside, said: ‘All areas of London need to contribute to reducing air pollution and meeting targets. Bankside businesses have demonstrated a clear interest in doing so and we are excited about the next steps.’

Better Bankside’s waste management project was part-funded by Transport for London’s Healthy Streets Fund for Business programme, which recently announced its latest round of funding.

Five business groups across London will share £170,000 of funding for innovative projects that cut freight emissions and improve air quality.

These schemes will include a new freight hub to streamline deliveries in Hammersmith and a shared cargo bike scheme in Streatham.

It is hoped the schemes will help businesses adapt to the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) by enabling them to reduce their use of vans and lorries and switch to cleaner alternatives.