Fears are growing that divisions are opening in Worcester Park after the suburb was split neatly in two by the new low emissions zone.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone decided the LEZ boundary should run along Central Road including north-side shops, such as KFC, but excluding south-side shops, such as Waitrose.

Under the scheme, operators of vans and lorries more than six years old must pay £200 a day to enter greater London through designated roads.

From July, the £130million project will also cover all diesel-engined vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.

Supporters claim that 900,000 residents will benefit from reduced air pollution by 2012.

Critics claim existing European regulations would have brought the improvements anyway.

Local people seem agreed on one point: Worcester Park could slowly become polarised. Rarely has a settlement known such fear since beachside apartments sprung up beside the sprawling slums of Rio de Janeiro.

The author of one local web blog wrote: "The next time you are in Central Road stand and take in the sweet perfumed low-emission, early-spring air outside the Halifax Bank.

"Then, cross (at your own peril) to choke on the rancid fume-filled air. Beeeg Eeeshoo, amigo? Who knows - perhaps being in the zone will inflate house prices even further."

Homeowners in the Surrey side, with its supposedly less rarefied atmosphere, will not be unduly worried. If neighbouring property prices soar, they will be offset by the cost of moving house, which could rise by £750.

The British Association of Removers has said average costs will hit £3,250 in the LEZ, as removal firms refuse to equip non-compliant trucks with expensive exhaust filters.

Terry Dobbs, chairman of Worcester Park Traders' Association, predicted that only deliveries to a few high-street stores, on junctions, would suffer.

But he said the full impact would be apparent only when heavily-polluting goods vehicles are penalised in the summer.

Other shopkeepers were more angry that baffling LEZ road signs, attached to a forest of grey poles, had blighted the street scene.