Air Clean Up

How Might London's Pollution Affect Property Prices?

Jun 17 2017 Read 593 Times

The adverse effects of air pollution on human health are old hat. Causing serious respiratory and coronary complaints, airborne contaminants are thought to directly contribute to the deaths of over 40,000 Britons every year.

Obviously, this has a knock-on effect on the country’s economy as well, since the NHS is required to deal with a wide number of ailments that could potentially have been avoided through cleaner air. Now, however, experts are suggesting that poor air quality could be damaging the nation’s purse strings in another way – through its property prices.

A drop of 10 to 15%

At present, Park Lane and Mayfair occupy the most prestigious and pricey spots on the Monopoly board. However, their proximity to Hyde Park – and to all of the traffic that regularly circumvents it – may cause the value of property in the area to drop over the coming years, according to industry experts.

Mark Hayward, who currently serves as the CEO of the National Association of Estate Agents in the USA told CNBC that he believes the current air quality crisis in London could lead to prices dropping by around 10%. Meanwhile, property tycoon and industry commentator Henry Pryor was even more pessimistic in his predictions, claiming that homeowners could lose 15% of their market value due to the smog surrounding London.

Increased awareness drives prices down

Pryor speculated that one of the main contributing factors to falling house prices in London was the increased exposure that incumbent mayor Sadiq Khan has given to the issue of air pollution. Stressing the need to improve air quality and reduce transport-related pollution, Khan has promised to introduce ultra-low emissions zones (ULEZs) ahead of schedule and tighten legislation.

The media attention given to the subject has raised awareness about the problem, thus driving down prices in the affected regions. Oxford Street, for example, is the third most expensive property in Monopoly and has traditionally been viewed as an opulent area – but took just four days to break the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) for the entire year.

With concerns about the damaging effects of air pollution at an all-time high, it’s only reasonable to expect that the thoroughfare will lose its prestige should the contamination continue.

A costly problem

An April 2015 investigation conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that European air pollution had cost the continent a whopping $1.6 trillion (£1.24 trillion) in 2010 alone. That includes the injurious medical bill that poor air quality entails mentioned above, but also damage to property and infrastructure, as well.

For example, air pollution has recently been linked with the decay to Westminster. The crumbling brickwork of Britain’s parliamentary palace is reportedly in need of an expensive makeover, rumoured to be in the region of £3.9 billion.  

Of course, a far graver price is currently being paid for the state of our poor airways. Though falling house prices and billions of pounds of taxpayer’s money are undoubtedly causes for concern, the devastating effect that air pollution has on human health is surely a higher priority. In any case, it’s becoming increasingly clear that urgent action is needed to curb this blight on London and UK prosperity.

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