London's streets might not be paved with gold but they are about to become home to something arguably more interesting.
Four schemes have been awarded funding by Transport for London, including an "intelligent" energy-generating side-street in the West End and a "noise-absorbing barrier" near the Blackwall Tunnel.
The four grants have been awarded as part of its future streets incubator fund - part of the mayor's £4bn road modernisation plan, which is aimed at addressing congestion, overcrowding, air quality and noise pollution.
The schemes include installing a range of cutting edge technologies on Bird Street, just off Bond Street, "to generate energy from the sun and pavement movement, and potentially improve air quality".
Materials in roofs, canopies and pavements would generate the energy, and would be integrated into an "enjoyable public space that will prioritise pedestrians and cyclists", TfL said. This project will be delivered by the New West End Company.
Meanwhile a flexible boardwalk will be introduced onto Lavington Street in Southwark, to turn the road into a "pedestrian boulevard". This will widen the path into a single one-way route, with plants, greenery and "points of interest drawn from the Southwark Local History Library, encouraging more people to walk and cycle safely through the area". This project will be delivered by Better Bankside.
The third scheme will see a new noise-absorption material trialled at the A12 underpass between Empson Street and Gillender Street to create "a more attractive barrier that incorporates a green wall with integrated watering system" by the Blackwall Tunnel.
The project will investigate the potential for reducing the impact of noise and air pollution from major roads on local communities, as well as testing methods for reducing surface water on the A12. This project will be delivered by the Poplar Housing and Regeneration Community Association and London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
Lastly, TfL hopes to consolidate deliveries to businesses within Holborn, Bloomsbury and St Giles by using a central platform for ordering everyday items like milk and newspapers. The items will be delivered using electric vehicles or cargo bikes, servicing to up to 320 local businesses. The new consolidation service, delivered by the Inmidtown BID, could reduce vehicle miles by 81 per cent per year and achieve an annual 60 per cent reduction in delivery-related greenhouse gas emissions, TfL believes.
Richard De Cani, TfL’s managing director of planning, said: “The fabulously creative and innovative ideas we are funding as part of the Incubator Fund capture the spirit of turning London’s streets into places for all to enjoy and work to deliver the vision of the Mayor’s Roads Task Force. By trialling new ideas we are able to look to the future at how we can make our roads and public spaces work better for everyone.”
Previously-funded projects have included temporary parks and seating through the Ealing Parklet and Team London Bridge’s Fresh Air Squares and Westminster’s e-tag parking.