School Superzones in Local Authorities across the London Region

Background and aim:

This research is looking at the effects of ‘place-based’ initiatives that aim to improve the health and wellbeing of local residents, particularly for children and young people. Such an example would be School Superzone areas – which place a 400 metre zone around a school, to reduce harmful exposures (such as air pollution, gambling, alcohol sales) and increase health-promoting ones (such as access to parks and safe spaces). Superzones aim to create healthier places for children and young people to live, learn and play and have been introduced by 13 London Councils in selected areas around schools.

We particularly want to understand how these projects can best help local neighbourhoods and communities recover after the impacts of COVID.  

We aim to compare Superzones with other place-based initiatives like urban regeneration schemes or temporary use of planning rules during COVID to create cycle lanes, play streets or to allow more places to serve takeaway food and alcohol. 

Project outputs and updates:

In the Summer and Autumn of 2020 we undertook socially distanced, outdoor public engagement events called ‘Lets Ear it’ with people across Southwark and Merton. We wanted to hear from local residents what their ‘neighbourhood environment’ means to them in the time of COVID.  We have produced two online exhibitions of visual outputs and quotes which can be viewed at: 

https://letsearit.hotglue.me/?WalworthCollage

https://letsearit.hotglue.me/?Merton

Talking to local residents has helped us adapt our research to focus on what neighbourhood environmental issues are most important for residents. 

We are now carrying out online interviews and group discussions with young people and adults who live in several London Boroughs to help us consider these issues in more depth. We want to understand how neighbourhoods affects people’s lives, their behaviours and their health. We also want to understand how local council projects might best be implemented post COVID to protect and improve health and environmental sustainability. 

What to know more?

If you live in London, and want to get involved or hear more about our project please contact us at : photovoice@lshtm.ac.uk.