What is LEN and why does it matter to Shoreditch?


Great Eastern Street has a new resident. You may have noticed a leafy green structure, rising vertically from a flowerbed with the bright blue lettering etching out the characters ‘LEN’. This is the latest government initiative focussed on reducing carbon emissions and promoting greener living in Greater London.

The LEN scheme, or low emission neighbourhood scheme, has a £11 million budget and aims to improve the air quality of Barbican, Shoreditch, Hackney, Islington, Greenwich, and Marylebone.

What does this mean for Shoreditch?

The LEN scheme will come into force in July and will ban any vehicle that does not meet the government’s low emissions standards on several prominent Shoreditch streets.

This means that petrol, diesel, and older hybrid vehicles will be banned from several Shoreditch streets on Monday to Friday between the hours of 7am to 10am and 4pm to 7pm. The ban will affect the area including Tabernacle Street, Paul Street, Willow Street, Blackall Street, Cowper Street, and Singer Street. This will be in addition to the two streets above Great Eastern Street, Rivington Street and Charlotte Road, which have already been made low emission zones in recent months.

Residents and businesses who live and operate on the affected streets will receive permits to exempt them from the ban. However, the intention is to make Shoreditch awash with bicycles, pedestrians, and electric vehicles.

The Shoreditch population is receptive to the idea. During public consultations in January and February of 2018, the majority of local residents were in favour of the scheme.

The streets chosen were identified as key cycle and pedestrian routes. The LEN scheme is designed to reduce resident’s exposure to fumes while they walk or cycle to work and school. It is also expected to increase cyclist safety by reducing the volume of traffic in Shoreditch during peak commuter times.

The benefits will go beyond improved air quality

A report by Transport for London (TfL) predicts that the LEN scheme will bring plenty of benefits to the selected zones. It anticipates that reduced traffic will lead to fewer accidents and road traffic casualties. It also predicts a rise in property and rental prices in LENs.

Within LENs, TfL is exploring the idea of expanding the scope of the scheme to include car-free days, increased green spaces, roof-top vegetation projects, and no idling zones. This could be the beginning of Shoreditch’s air quality revival, will far-reaching impacts on resident’s health, safety, and overall well-being.