Parklets: a key feature to #BuildBackBetter in Greater Manchester?

Our Landscape Architect, Nick Linder, writes this blog to explain more about parklets and the role they could play in creating a greener, more resilient Greater Manchester with stronger, healthier communities.


What is a parklet?

A parklet is a small area of land, borrowed from the highway or road, and converted to a pleasant seating area with softening elements such as artificial grass and planting. The ideal size for a parklet is the size of two parking bays.

Types of parklets

There are a number of versions of parklets, from the commercial, to the council town improvements schemes, to the community lead variety. Parklets may have different focuses based on who initiates them but they all aspire to improve urban areas by creating green spaces to rest and socialise.

Parklets are often designed with cyclists in mind and have bike stands so bikes can be secured.

Man sitting on red box city parklet

Designed with wheels on the bottom, this Parkmobile, filled with ferns, easily rolled off the tow truck and into its spot next to the other one already in place.

Benefits of parklets

Living Streets promote parklets as a means for local communities to improve and green their local streets. This brings multiple benefits to the urban realm, such as city cooling, pollution trapping, flash flooding reduction and improvements to mental health and wellbeing.

 

Wooden bench parklet in city

A simple but effective parklet on Valencia Street in San Francisco.

Roadside safety

Given the fact that parklets are typically in the road some thought to the safety of the parklets users is required. Road users must be made aware that the parklet exists; brightly coloured sunshades or other large, bright structures could be used as a visual cue. There should be barriers on the roadside of the parklet and car wheel stops put in place to prevent drivers inadvertently shunting the parklet. On busier streets, concrete crash barriers should be considered too.

Concerns about parklets

Local residents are often nervous about having public seating areas near their homes and worry about the development of anti-social behaviour. Temporary parklets could be created as a way to test the reaction within a community before developing something more permeant. Many parklets are less fixed in nature; designed to be put out and packed up each day or as and when required.

Curved red and white Parklet London

This London parklet uses creative design, almost entirely constructed from standard scaffolding boards.

Getting permission to create a parklet

Whatever the focus of the parklet, permission is likely to be required to create it.
Firstly, when borrowing space from the highway, pavement or road you will need permission from the local council. If a business (such as café) is initiating the parklet, the council may want to charge additional fees due to the extra revenue the business may generate.
For instance, Manchester City Council have an annual table and chairs licence fee of £309.00 plus and annual fee of £16.00 per metre square of highway used. If the parklet is two parking bays the area will be 24msq and the annual cost will be £693.00.
(Prices as per date of publish, May 2020)

Here’s my vision for how a typical parklet could be used to benefit a community business
Parklet sketch outside cafe

If you are a community group, councillor or local business who would like support developing a parklet in Greater Manchester please do not hesitate to contact us. We can provide support liaising with the council and co-designing the green space alongside the local community.

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