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New A12 noise barrier a first for the UK


A new barrier intended to dramatically reduce the impact of traffic noise on passers-by, has been fitted on the A12, next to Bromley-by-Bow station.

The project, led by Poplar HARCA, and funded by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and Transport for London (TfL), aims to enhance the experiences of people walking and cycling in the area.

Noise levels on the busy road, which sees more than 15 million vehicles moving along it every year, have been found to consistently exceed 78 decibels by The University of East London (UEL). This puts the A12 in the most severe category for noise pollution, according to the World Health Organisation and the Department for the Environment.

Local people surveyed and who took part in focus groups scored road noise as a ‘highly irritable source of noise’ in Bromley-by-Bow.

Fran Jefcoate, a local resident who took part in the consultation, said of the stretch of road:

“You can’t have a conversation with the person next to you, let alone make a phone call, because the traffic noise makes it impossible to hear. I hope the barrier makes it better for anyone who uses this stretch of pavement.”

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said:

“This innovative barrier should serve as a comfort to residents passing through the area who suffer from excessive noise emanating from the A12. We have listened to residents who have complained about the level of noise pollution and if the scheme is successful it could be rolled out elsewhere in Tower Hamlets.”

The ‘Silk Metal’ noise resistant material from which the barrier is made, makes it’s the first of its kind in the UK. The installation’s unique design intends for it to also function as a public artwork.  Led by architects Beep Studio, the design and construction team is a collaboration between Expedition Engineering, Cake Studio, Echo Barrier and Power and Line.

Should public perception of noise pollution be found to reduce because of the barrier, it could be extended or replicated elsewhere on the A12, throughout London and the UK.

Images: Edmund Sumner. Fran Jefcoate, local resident, pictured.