While the UK Government has been fined by Europe’s highest court for being unable to correct its horrific levels of air pollution, with measures being described as “woefully inadequate”, one group is taking it upon themselves to improve life in their neighbourhood.

As a part of London with a strong recent history in business and commerce, despite its initial home of the affluent, Mayfair has been dealing with increased problems in its ability to maintain a healthy and sustainable living environment for its workers, residents, and visitors. While all of London struggles under the weight of an increasing population, and therefore increasing commercial needs, figures released in late 2017 highlighted how Mayfair had some of the poorest air quality figures in Europe. Along with its neighbour Westminster, the levels of NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) frequently rose above levels that had been agreed globally as acceptable for living conditions. It is this air quality that is one of the main targets of a new group, formed by workers, residents and councillors of the area to combat this and make positive environmental change a reality.

The Mayfair Forum recently put a plan to the government of a detailed set of proposals with the aim of making Mayfair a healthier and more attractive proposition for residents and visitors. Lead by area stalwart and luxury estate agent Peter Wetherell, was able to use his 30+ years of knowledge of housing and construction in the area to use when creating this document. “Creating a more sustainable and healthier environment for all by stressing the importance of sustainability, especially in the property industry, is key to encouraging others.” Peter continues, “We see ourselves as a leader in this area and believe everyone can follow in our footsteps” . Being at the forefront of change such as this compared to other London boroughs, Mayfair residents believe this will start a trend with the residents and councillors of neighbouring boroughs to ensure that the issue of London air pollution and sustainable housing is tackled head-on.

In order to keep up with demand for housing in the area, a lot of residential conversion is taking place as buildings that were formerly the homes of large companies begin to revert to original residential facilities.  All these buildings will, if passed, have to comply with the rules put forward in ‘The Mayfair Plan’, as well as the Mayor of London’s London Plan.  This should reduce water usage by 40%, cut long-term emissions through rigorous monitoring of construction traffic and the installation of ultra-low NOx boilers.

As well as lowering the carbon footprint of new areas, the group plans to reinvigorate the outdoor spaces of the borough. As well as increasing the number of trees and plants with the best ability to turn CO2 into O2 , and removing other unwanted gases from the air, the plan works alongside research from mental health research group MIND, the process of ‘re-interpreting’ outdoor spaces will be aimed at highlighting how beneficial outdoor space, particularly parks and nature, can be beneficial to the mind as well as the body. Already holding much significance in the borough, Berkeley Square and Hanover Square will hopefully take on a much more important role in the development of Mayfair.

Elliot Preece