Council Aims to Increase Number of Parklets in the Borough

Parking bays could be transformed into al fresco seating areas

An example of what a parklet could look like. Picture: Hounslow Council

Hounslow Council is proceeding with a plan to encourage the conversion of parking bays across the borough into parklets.

On-street bays that meet the right criteria, could be transformed into al-fresco seating, spaces to play board games, focal points for community activity.

The council says that repurposing the bays are part of its strategy to bring greater variety of social activity to the borough’s streets by ensuring there is space for everyone, not just vehicles.

Hounslow Council’s Cabinet members have approved the plans, which means community groups, organisations and local businesses can now bid to create their own community parklets.

During lockdown, a number of parklets were set up across London which often proved popular with local residents. However, there is some scepticism many organisations will have the means to meet the cost of setting up a parklet particular given insurance costs and, in certain locations, there is the possibility of resistance from local businesses.

A report to Cabinet about the parklets project says, “We are committed to enhancing public realm design so that our streets can better support Active Travel. Nearly one third of our households don’t have access to a vehicle, yet the kerbside remains dominated by parking. Any opportunity to allow flexibility in the use of kerbside space, other than car storage, will enable us to improve the public realm for our residents.

“Parklets repurpose a parking space on the street for uses other than the parking of cars. They can include planters, benches, games, notice boards, phone charging facility or any other items that residents or businesses propose.”

Under the scheme, anyone who wants a parklet will have to submit an application form. Groups will have to prove how they can fully fund, fit-out and provide on-going maintenance of the parklet throughout its lifespan.

They will also need to provide public liability insurance for the space, prove that they have consulted and have agreement with the community and there is a genuine desire for the parklet.

Council officers will scrutinise each application and if the schemes meet the necessary criteria, they will be approved for a six-month trial period. The parklet will be reviewed at the end of the trial period and officers will decide whether it can become a permanent fixture.

Hounslow Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Climate, Environment and Transport Strategy, Councillor Katherine Dunne, said, “We want to make sure that everyone in our borough can take advantage of an outdoor space. At the same time, we want to reduce the dominance of cars on our roads. We need to reduce congestion on our borough’s road, improve air quality for everyone and rise to the challenges of climate change.

“The Covid-19 pandemic placed greater emphasis on active travel and the need for outdoor communal spaces. We want to work with our communities and help them to provide spaces that will bring people together and support local businesses.

“Creating and maintaining a parklet will require hard work and commitment. We can support anyone who wants to make an application with information and guidance. These green community spaces have proved popular in other boroughs across London and across the country.

“We would like to hear your ideas about how we can bring parklets to Hounslow.”

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September 29, 2022