Coram’s Fields - improving the air quality for visitors and residents

Coram’s Fields, a children and young people’s charity based in Bloomsbury, Camden, was London’s first public playground, founded in 1936 as a place for all children to play.

As a children’s charity, they are committed to providing a safe and secure space for local young people through their seven-acre park, sports facilities and free community services.

Each year Coram’s Fields hosts several events, including a number of free community events for children and families. Alongside this, an annual corporate marquee, run by Awesome Events, provides one of the main sources of income for the charity, during a six-week residency in the lead up to Christmas.

A key concern, both for Coram’s Fields and Camden Council, was that these events were mainly powered using diesel generators, with the marquee being the greatest contributor to this, generating fumes which research now shows can damage health. As a children’s charity, Coram’s Fields are committed to moving away from the use of diesel generators; along with improving air and noise levels for the local community.

Having explored the options available, the greenest alternative was to build an electrical sub-station.

Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a Sustainable Camden
"Air pollution is a huge concern for all of us, and we know that it can have a particularly damaging effect on children, including harming the development of their lungs. The progress towards powering all events at Coram’s Fields using electricity is a great step forward to improving the air quality at this location. 

"Camden Council is pleased to have made local 'CIL' funding available to the charity to install a new electrical substation, and we are grateful to the ward councillors from King's Cross, Bloomsbury, and Holborn & Covent Garden for allocating the funding. 

"We were the first borough to adopt World Health Organization air quality guidelines, and we did so precisely because we know there is no safe level of air pollution. In Camden we need everyone pulling together to achieve these WHO levels, and projects like this help us on our way." 
Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a Sustainable Camden

The council provided the charity with the necessary financial support using local Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) (£50,000) and Section 106 developer contributions (£50,000) from planning applications, in order to support the delivery of this green alternative.

From winter 2021, the sub-station will provide the power to run nearly every aspect of the marquee operations and from 2022, all community events at Coram’s Fields will be diesel free. This will ensure that the charity is able to continue to deliver a full range of community events; that between them attract thousands of Camden children and families each year.

Further information

As well as a seven-acre park and playground, Coram’s Fields also run an after-school and holiday programme, a sports development programme, a youth centre, an Early Years programme which includes a nursery and under-5`s drop-in. The park is free to the public and sees up to a thousand children visit daily during summer.

The spending of local CIL is led by ward councillors based on local priority lists for each ward which have been developed in consultation with local communities. Since being introduced in 2016, this system has significantly altered how communities can benefit from developers’ contributions.

You can read more information about the Community Infrastructure Levy on our website.