Reducing Street Clutter in Central London

This report highlights the issues that stem from street clutter in central London, and how we can reduce it.

London is a world class city for residents and visitors alike, but issues with street clutter mean that the capital’s pavements aren’t working for pedestrians and businesses as much as they could be, and so London is falling behind global rivals.

What is street clutter?

Street clutter is defined as poorly placed or redundant objects on pavements that negatively affect pedestrians or other pavement users. Examples can include advertising ‘A boards’, unnecessary signage and rubbish bags. As well as discarded e-bikes or vandalised telephone boxes.

Why does street clutter matter?

As well as being an eyesore which discourages people from visiting central London, clutter also makes it harder to navigate . In order for walking to be accessible for all people need an adequate amount of space on the pavement to move around comfortably – especially on central London’s busy streets.

Using case study analysis from three central London streets, we found several instances where London’s street clutter had a significant impact on the walkability of the locations analysed.

This matters for many reasons, not least as an equalities issue. Leaving clutter in central London affects people with mobility difficulties, who use wheelchairs, or who are blind or visually impaired, more than other Londoners. As well as discouraging footfall for local businesses, clutter stops disabled Londoners from having equal access to London’s streets and shops.

Key recommendations

To tackle street clutter in central London:

  • National government should grant local authorities powers and resources to deal with street clutter. This could include funding for street clutter assessments and giving local authorities the ability to remove redundant street furniture.
  • The Greater London Authority should ban A boards for all businesses in London.
  • Local authorities should develop decluttering strategies, with a focus on how decluttering can be incorporated into their existing street related activities.
  • Local authorities and Business Improvement Districts should work together to reduce the impact of commercial waste on the street.