Located in the bustling Old Kent Road area of London’s Borough of Southwark, Ilderton Primary School’s central aims are to achieve ‘a happy, calm and nurturing school community’ and ‘a highly stimulating learning environment’. Local noise and traffic sometimes pose a challenge to reaching these goals. Particularly, the site’s location below a busy road made it easy for both air and noise pollution to travel into the playground and classrooms.
As the area undergoes rapid regeneration, which will see the addition of 20,000 new homes, three tube stations and two schools, one of Southwark Council’s key objectives is to reduce pollution and improve health. To this end, it made a commitment to work with all of its schools in areas with bad pollution. So, when Ilderton School made a plan to install some landscaping as a protective measure from traffic fumes and noise, they received support and funding from the council.
The school’s solution comprised two central elements, a green screen of ivy and evergreen trees and an acoustic fence. Greenery, including flower beds, was planted by pupils, who were joined by the local councillor, Richard Livingstone. Under contractor, LARK Landscape Design, further protection was provided by Jacksons Fencing.
In total, 104m of 1.8m high Jakoustic Reflective fencing was installed around the school perimeter with steel l-beam posts, replacing a shorter, old timber fence and metal mesh topping. The large solid panels minimise noise while providing increased privacy and a pleasant aesthetic. A low-impact, unobtrusive appearance was particularly important in order to create a positive atmosphere conducive to learning, appropriate for a primary school.
Research from the World Health Organisation suggests noise can impair early childhood development and education, with long-lasting effects on cognitive performance, wellbeing, motivation and blood pressure. Since the installation of the acoustic fencing, Ilderton Primary School has reported a 15-20 dB decrease in noise levels, a welcome step towards creating a healthy learning environment.
Peter Jackson, Jacksons Fencing Managing Director, comments: “As the UK and its urban centres continue to grow, noise is an ever-pervasive concern. Fortunately, architects, specifiers and contractors are actively seeking out solutions to help mitigate the negative impact of this invisible contaminant. It’s encouraging to see this supported by government at the local level, as councils work to improve the lives of their communities.”
The work being done by Southwark Council with local schools is being complemented by other initiatives including road closures, anti-idling campaigns and support for the business sector to reduce emissions.