Islington set to get first liveable neighbourhood as part of £10million spending announcement
PUBLISHED: 13:16 19 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:57 19 February 2020
The town hall will spend £1million on create the borough’s first “liveable neighbourhood” – and wants to replicate the project all over Islington in the coming years.
Islington Council has announced an extra 10.2million to finance a raft of capital investment proposals for it's 2020-2021 budget.
The draft budget includes £1.5 million towards a new sub-station and high voltage National Grid connection at the Waste and Recycling Centre, which would provide enough power to enable the council's 230-vehicle fleet to go electric.
The council has set aside £5m to replace its ageing fleet with Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) compliant models and wants to reduce the number of vehicles where possible - but it's yet to confirm a date by which they'll all be electrified.
The "liveable neighbourhood" will be created in the Mildmay and Highbury East area, with work due to begin later this year, subject to consultation.
Islington's environment and transport chief Cllr Rowena Champion said: "We're working to build a cleaner, greener future for everyone in Islington, and are committing serious money to major new environment projects in our borough.
"Islington's first liveable neighbourhood will be closely designed with local communities to cut through-traffic, make it easier and safer to walk and cycle, and create a more pleasant environment with better air quality.
"The funding for our fleet will help us to deliver an electrical revolution - even enabling electrification of our biggest recycling and refuse vehicles - to improve air quality and help us to cut carbon emissions."
But the money hasn't come from Mayor of London's Liveable Neighbourhood scheme, where funding is allocated to council's deemed to have submitted the most innovative designs. Although Islington has put bids in for aforesaid funding to transform areas of Clerkenwell and Bunhill.
The town hall didn't want to call it a low-traffic neighbourhood because it wants the project to be more than that.
Asked to explain, Cllr Champion told the Gazette: "It's more about seeing a neighbourhood as somewhere where people live and move around, so limiting it to the word 'traffic' gives it to narrow a focus."
The scheme will include measures such as road closures, protected cycle routes, better crossings and improved public spaces to remove barriers to walking and cycling.
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Islington's sole opposition councillor Caroline Russell (Green, Highbury East) said: "The scale of the climate emergency is huge and it is very welcome to see the council investing seriously in reducing transport carbon emissions and cleaning up our air.
The low traffic neighbourhood funding is very welcome as is the commitment for the council to work with local people to co-design the scheme before a full public consultation. I know from our recent ward meeting that many residents across Highbury are keen to find a way to reduce traffic cutting through the area.
Future proofing the electricity supply at the waste and recycling centre so that in future electric bin lorries can be added to the fleet is a sensible move. It would be great to see the council take a lead on electrifying these essential vehicles.
And the £2 million for traffic enforcement providing camera control of lorries will really help the council's urgently needed work to reduce road danger.
Many of the welcome capital investment announcements are for urgent repairs to sport centre roofs, worn out play equipment and buildings in our parks. This shows the impact of ten years of damaging austerity cuts and its worrying that the council has had to borrow to fund these essential repairs and investments.
This announcement shows just how much local authorities need extra help from the government to tackle the climate emergency."
Leisure centres and parks
Some £700,000 will go towards "urgent repairs" for roofs at Cally Pool and Sobell Leisure Centre, while a further £450,000 will help repair and revamp facilities in Barnard Park, Highbury Fields and Whittington Park.
Other projects include £130,000 to complete the refurbishment of Wray Crescent cricket pavilion and £490,000 to upgrade the council's CCTV network. The latter will also buy a new vehicle equipped with CCTV cameras wo patrol areas suffering from anti-social behaviour.
Thebudget will be set at full council on February 27.
Some £450,000 has also been set aside to improve water quality and biodiversity in the New River Walk in Canonbury.
Finance chief Andy Hull said: "We're determined to build a fairer Islington and our budget proposals prioritise the biggest issues facing the borough.
"Despite having had to make savings of almost £250 million over the last 10 years of continuing Government cuts to local councils, today's announcement of extra funding for the environment, schools, parks, libraries and children's centres shows we are investing in Islington's future."