Southwark Council will invest £1 million into air quality initiatives in Walworth, an area where nitrogen dioxide levels have doubled the guideline level, following a £500,000 grant from City Hall.

The council will consult on how to spend the grant, which it has matched with a further £500,000.

It hopes to reduce rat-runs through residential areas, improve the bus flow and encourage people to walk, cycle and take public transport, a council spokeswoman said.

Other measures to create the Low Emission Neighbourhood can include new infrastructure for ultra low emission vehicles, projects with schools and businesses, or schemes such as making prime loading bays accessible to only ultra low emission vehicles, according to the Mayor of London.

Air analysis taken by the Walworth Green Party has found nitrogen dioxide levels at Bricklayers Arms was nearly double the EU limit.

Cabinet member for environment and transport, Cllr Richard Livingstone, said he would work with the community, building on other improvements to the area.

This includes Walworth’s heritage action zone status, new library and heritage centre, and new arts and community hub, café and studio workspaces in the former Walworth Town Hall.

“This funding is exciting news for the people of Walworth. I very much look forward to working alongside the local community to do everything we can to improve air quality, create some beautiful new spaces and build on the exciting work that is already happing in the area,” he said.

Studies have shown that excessive nitrogen dioxide exposure worsens shortness of breath, coughing and lung inflammation and is particularly harmful for people with asthma.

Southwark Council has two continuous air quality monitoring stations, on the Old Kent Road and at Elephant and Castle, which measure air pollution every hour.  They monitor nitrogen dioxide (NO2), smog and particles.

Breathe London, a City Hall project to improve air quality, launched eight monitoring sensors in Southwark earlier this year.