‘It stinks here’ – These are the smelliest places to live in London

Nearly 15,000 complaints about smelly places were made to London’s councils over a five year period, new data shows.

Between 2015 and 2019, the smelliest place in the capital was City of London, with 1,344 smell complaints per 100,000 people, or one complaint per 74 inhabitants.

The 2.9 square kilometre business and financial hub in the heart of London is home to 8,700 permanent residents, who were most likely to complain about unpleasant odours coming from food premises, catering for an estimated 1 million workers.

In second place is Westminster, with its 255,324 residents complaining 2,391 times about bad odours, or 936 complaints per capita.

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Hillingdon in West London comes in third place, with the council receiving 501 nuisance smell complaints per capita over the five year period, closely followed by Bexley and Waltham Forest with 474 and 419 complaints respectively.

Residents in Bexley were particularly concerned with air pollution and its toxic fumes. Only recently, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan urged the Government to pull the plug on a proposed new waste incinerator in Bexley as part of his strategy to clean up the capital’s air.

At the other end of the table, London’s best smelling borough was Barking and Dagenham, with its council only receiving one smell complaint.

The smelliest places in London have been ranked

Bromley received seven complaints about a waste recycling centre, residents in Tower Hamlets also moaned seven times, mostly about air quality, while Croydon Council received 19 complaints, mostly about commercial properties.

In total, London’s councils received a staggering 14,669 smell complaints between 2015 and 2019, according to a study by Lifestyle Packaging.

It’s important to note that Harrow Council and Hammersmith and Fulham Council did not supply the data requested.

According to the Government, a bad odour is deemed a “statutory nuisance” if it interferes with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises, or if it injures health.

Bad smells are also the third biggest turn-off for homebuyers,behind damp and the property being in a poor state of repair.

Believe it or not, councils often send out human “sniffers” to assess smell complaints, and ask local residents to keep “smell diaries”, recording their perception of the smell and the effect it has on them.

Rich Quelch, global head of marketing at Lifestyle Packaging, said: “It’s really interesting to see where residents complain the most in London about bad smells and the range of complaints councils receive every year.       

“In extreme cases, councils have the power to issue an abatement notice to the person responsible, demanding they take steps to stop the smell nuisance. Failure to comply with an abatement notice can lead to a maximum fine of £40,000.”

The smelliest places to live in London

Borough Smell complaints Complaints per 100,000 people Population
Barking and Dagenham 1 0 211,998
Barnet 159 41 392,140
Bexley 1,172 474 247,258
Brent 330 100 330,795
Bromley 22 7 331,096
Camden 230 88 262,226
City of London 117 1,344 8,706
Croydon 72 19 385,346
Ealing 329 96 341,982
Enfield 927 278 333,869
Greenwich 167 58 286,186
Hackney 251 90 279,665
Hammersmith and Fulham N/A N/A N/A
Haringey 168 62 270,624
Harrow N/A N/A N/A
Havering 579 225 257,810
Hillingdon 1,526 501 304,824
Hounslow 1,049 387 270,782
Islington 352 147 239,142
Kensington and Chelsea 545 349 156,197
Kingston upon Thames 147 84 175,470
Lambeth 132 41 325,917
Lewisham 168 55 303,536
Merton 194 94 206,186
Newham 431 122 352,005
Redbridge 207 68 303,858
Richmond upon Thames 167 85 196,904
Southwark 877 276 317,256
Sutton 370 181 204,525
Tower Hamlets 22 7 317,705
Waltham Forest 1,158 419 276,700

You can find out more about your local area, and its most common smell complaint using this interactive map

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