Keppel Row - a traffic-free alleyway parallel to Southwark Street - has been revamped with new planting and an innovative drainage scheme as part of a scheme to provide walking routes which avoid the poor air quality on traffic-clogged main roads.
For the past year, with funding from the Mayor's Air Quality Fund and Greener City Fund, Better Bankside has worked with Southwark Council, local businesses and residents to deliver innovative improvements to Keppel Row.
The street, previously an uninviting alley, provides an attractive pedestrian route as a quieter, cleaner-air alternative to Southwark Street.
The innovative new street surface and Sustainable Drainage (SuDS) sees rainwater being filtered through a permeable surface and newly installed rain gardens. Beneath the porous pavement lies a series of crates known as 'permavoids', cleaning and directing rainwater to a storage area for retention before releasing it into the sewer system at a much slower rate through a restricted outlet. Reducing the rate of rain water run-off is important as built up areas of London like Bankside are at risk of surface water flooding.
A mysterious artwork created by local artist Marian Grolmus carefully watches over the street from a parapet. The golden figure references the etymology of the work Keppel, deriving from 'cappa' meaning cape.
Donald Hyslop, Chair of Better Bankside, said, "The Keppel Row project is an exemplar in demonstrating what can be achieved in constrained spaces, and is just one example of the work Better Bankside is delivering to improve the public realm for pedestrians. We know that local business decision makers in Bankside want us to prioritise projects that address poor air quality, so raising awareness and encouraging pedestrians to use and explore new and tranquil routes is at the core of our public realm strategy."
Cllr Richard Livingstone, Southwark's cabinet member for environment, transport management and air quality, said: "Keppel Row is an excellent example of how we can all work together to transform uninviting spaces into accessible and welcoming environments for pedestrians; offering cleaner air, sustainable drainage, public art and some welcome greenery, all away from busy A roads. I look forward to collaborating on the next phase of this project and taking what we've learned here to the inns and yards off Borough High Street."
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