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Portobello Road
Photograph: QQ7/Shutterstock

Portobello Road says no thanks to the return of cars

During market hours vehicles will now be permanently banned, after council heads for 2030 carbon-neutral goal

Written by
Elizabeth Gregory
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When you think of Portobello Road you probably picture its pastel coloured homes, eclectic antiques and buzzing market. Oh, and a scene from that film with Rhys Ifans in his Y-fronts. You’re probably not thinking about the traffic jamming up the streets around it, or the cars driving down it.

But, thanks to Kensington & Chelsea council, you won’t have to. This week, the borough announced that Portobello Road will be closed to traffic during market operating hours (10am-4pm) from Monday to Saturday. Some of the nearby streets will also be closed throughout the week.

The restrictions had already been put in place on an experimental basis following the outbreak of the pandemic, but now it will be made permanent. The idea is to reduce carbon emissions while providing shoppers with more room to enjoy their bougie surroundings. In September 2019, Kensington & Chelsea council set itself the goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

The council said that the decision to ban cars from Portobello Road has been made following consultation with, and support from, traders and locals. Residents of the area, those with disabilities and emergency services will be exempt from the vehicle restrictions.

The decision follows the mayor’s October announcement that the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is going to be expanded. ULEZ is an area where cars have to meet a strict emission level or pay a fee. According to the London Mayor’s Office, ‘The central London ULEZ works. Before the pandemic, it contributed to a 44 percent reduction in harmful roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) within the zone.’

So if you go to Portobello Road, you should find the air cleaner and the roads clearer, so you have more space to enjoy the world’s largest antiques market under London’s winter sky.

More details about the road closures can be found here.

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