London Fields protester who transformed parking bay into garden loses fight with council

PUBLISHED: 14:53 30 June 2017 | UPDATED: 14:53 30 June 2017

The bay has proved popular with passers-by. Picture: Brenda Puech

The bay has proved popular with passers-by. Picture: Brenda Puech


It was fun while it lasted but a Hackney parking space converted into a mini garden is set to be removed following a driver’s complaint.

The council has told Brenda to remove the bay. Picture: Brenda Puech The council has told Brenda to remove the bay. Picture: Brenda Puech

The People’s Parking Bay has proven so popular with passers-by in London Fields over the last month it’s on its fourth visitors book and 700 people have signed a petition for it to stay.

People regularly stop and sit on the bench, which has even played host to a couple’s first date. The pair wrote: “This is the best first date spot in London” in the visitor’s book.

“It’s so disappointing because it has been such a hit with the community,” said Brenda Puech, the Hackney Living Streets campaigner who bought the street furniture for the bay outside her house. “My neighbours have been really supportive and the reception has been fantastic.”

The space is carpeted with a fake lawn and has a bench with two large plant pots either side, fitted with bars for chaining bikes to. Brenda installed it after purchasing a parking permit from the council.

A couple even had their first date on the bench. Picture: Brenda Puech A couple even had their first date on the bench. Picture: Brenda Puech

Green London Assembly member Caroline Russell officially opened the bay at a launch party, which featured speeches, photography and sparkling wine.

She said: “It’s a real shame Hackney Council wants to get rid of it. If somebody wants to use the space outside their house for something other than storing their car they should be allowed to do that, especially if they’re paying the council to do so.”

Brenda argues it no longer makes sense to design streets in a way that puts cars first.

She thinks cycling and walking ought to be encouraged and steps should be taken to make streets more hospitable and pleasant places to cycle, walk and relax.

At the launch her friends and fellow campaigners spoke of their desire to recreate the garden elsewhere in the borough. But that now seems impossible.

The council left a notice on the bench saying it, along with the other items, must be removed.

The notice is adorned with strong criticisms of the council’s “jobsworth” approach, most of which we cannot publish.

A council spokesmansaid: “While we support the aims of the Living Streets campaign, Hackney Council does not allocate parking spaces to individuals, with parking permits giving residents or their visitors the right to park in a space in a parking zone.”

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1 comment

  • Worth investigating the following detail to see how the issues might be tackled. 1) for most roads the roads authority only owns the road NOT the land on which it sits. this normally belongs to the owners of the title for frontaging land - check your own title deeds. 2) there us a long historically established condition which boils down to the fact that the roads authority (the Council) is prohibited from making any profit from the use of the land on which their roads are built. Hence the legal fudge that any surplus on parking permits and fines, not used to pay for the enforcement services must only be spent on linked transport spending. 3) the Council has no legal mandate to provide roads for any purpose other than moving traffic on carriageways and footways - by dumping the maintenance and provision of road surfaces not required for moving traffic most London Boroughs would halve the amount of carriageway surfacing they need to maintain. This equally means that they can ignore all demands for 'parking outside my house' as the law state they have no duty to provide parking at all on the roads. 4) when a road ceases to provide the function of providing a highway between 2 places, or is duplicated by a second route, then it can be stopped up and dropped from the list of roads. This generally means the reversion of use of the land to the owner of the solum - generally the frontager. This detail, with a sharp legal expert offers dome interesting possibilities. Clearly the parking space on a road built on your land is not required for moving traffic (as patently there are cars parked on it - often for many days without moving) Thus it could be 'stopped-up' and returned to the frontager - Partial stopping up is not unknown, although normally it happens when all the property served by the road belongs to the same owner - Glasgow University has done this, converting the road to a private car park, as has a media group when they developed their office complex, and a retail mall - in this case destroying a useful pedestrian through route. Of course it would be great to return to the pre 1960's condition where signs told drivers where they could park, and parking anywhere else was obstruction of traffic, and we now spend a fortune on red & yellow paint plus signs telling drivers where they cannot park.. The parking parklet seats, grass and parasol will still exist, and perhaps it should go mobile (should fit onto a couple of cargo bikes) and pop-up guerilla-style at deserving locations around London. Any offers?

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    A V Lowe

    Sunday, July 2, 2017

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