Hackney installs country's first US-inspired on-street micro park
London’s first San Francisco-style ‘parklet’ has been installed in redundant road space in Hackney transforming it into a sanctuary for people to sit, hang out and relax.
The small urban park brings seating, cycle parking and a splash of nature to busy bicycle route, Pitfield Street, along the course of the forthcoming Cycle Superhighway 1.It is based on a design first trialled in San Francisco, in the US, and which has since been rolled out by popular demand across America and other cities worldwide, and sees underused carriageway or parking bays reclaimed for public leisure space.
The borough’s parklet has been co-funded by Hackney Council using the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund grant, through Sustrans’ Innovation Fund, and by Cyclehoop.
The parklet occupies a 2.6m by 8m space, formerly a loading bay, and boasts three Sheffield bike stands and a decking area with benches and planters full of grasses and herbs. Solar-powered lighting has been installed in the floor for safety.
Hackney's parklet will officially open on Friday (3 July) and will be trialled in situ before being moved elsewhere in the borough while the Council monitors its use. If successful, the Council has pledged to introduce more across the borough, each bespoke to its surroundings.
The parklet offers a perfect place to hang out in one of the borough’s most creative areas. It allows people to read, eat, relax, people-watch and secure their bikes in an area that’s currently lacking in seating and cycle parking.
It is just one small part of our ongoing transformation of Hackney's neighbourhoods into the most liveable and attractive in London, with cleaner and greener streets, filled with healthier and more active residents. Part of this plan is challenging the assumption that our streets are for vehicles only.
We want residents to tell us directly about where they would like to see more parklets and, if approved, we’ll work with the community to come up with the most appropriate designs.
Ben Addy, Sustrans’ London Communities Manager, said: “It’s possible for our neighbourhoods to be comfortable places, all that’s required is to reclaim some of the space from vehicles and hand it back to people. The Parklet sits alongside other interventions, such as 20mph speed limits, that help make the roads social spaces.”
Anthony Lau, Managing Director of Cyclehoop, added: "Many streets in London are busy urban environments with narrow pavements, leaving little to no room for people to sit and chill-out. The Hackney Parklet is inspired by the idea of reclaiming parts of the city for pedestrians and cyclists.”
It is also hoped that the parklet will help local businesses by improving the look and feel of the area.
Neil Thornton, co-owner of Pitfield Street café, Summer with Monika, said: “The parklet will be a great bonus for cyclist and walkers alike, giving them a chance to sit down, recharge their batteries, and meet friends on their travels.
“Summer with Monika will be hoping to see lots of people hanging out, having a pit stop on the parklet, or just having a breather on the way to work or back. It is such a great concept; we need more of these in the city.”
Hackney aims to be the most cycle-friendly and liveable borough in London, with improved air quality, health, community cohesion, and a higher standard of living.
The borough already has the highest cycling rate in London and lowest percentage of car ownership, and the Council has been encouraging residents to live healthier, happier and greener with initiatives such the cycle loan scheme; the introduction of a 20mph speed limit on all Council-controlled roads; the Cycle Hackney app; and Play Streets.
Do you want to see a parklet in your street or discuss the Pitfield project? Contact the Council’s Streetscene team by email at:firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @hackneycouncil