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If you've been down Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch in recent days, you may have noticed the above structure, not far from the Hoxton Hotel. We spotted it too (it's not far from Londonist Towers) and we have to admit, it had us stumped for a few minutes. It appears to be some sort of vertical garden, but with no further explanation provided, who or what is LEN? London Elephant Node? Lee Evans's Nipples?
Then it clicked: Low Emission Neighbourhood. A few streets in this area will form Hackney and Islington Councils' Low Emission Neighbourhood, due to be instated in July. Similarly adorned is a hedge on the corner of Leonard Street and Tabernacle Street , and we suspect this is the first stage of a campaign to make regular users of these roads aware of what's to come.
What is a Low Emission Neighbourhood?
In this case, it means that only Ultra Low Emission Vehicles and local permit holders will be allowed to drive on these streets between 7am-10am, and 4pm-7pm, Monday to Friday.
The Low Emission Neighbourhood is split into two zones; Zone 1 covers the six streets highlighted above, which encompasses Central Foundation Boys' School, the Nobu Hotel, and the rear of the Hoxton Hotel (as well as Londonist Towers). Zone 2, shown below, covers three streets to the north of Great Eastern Street, in an area which has already seen changes in recent months.
Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras will be in use to identify vehicles that breach the LEN, with penalty charge notices being issued.
While this won't affect the majority of people, as most walk or cycle around these parts, we can't help wonder what'll happen to taxi drivers dropping off guests at the Nobu Hotel on Willow Street, which sits within Zone 1.
Why these streets?
These two areas are among some of the most polluted in central London, and were also identified as being key walking and cycle routes; Cycle Superhighway 1, which goes from the City to Tottenham, runs right through Zone 1. It is hoped that by reducing vehicle traffic during commuting hours, cyclist and pedestrian safety will improve.