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First phase of official 'community parklets' appear in Hackney

PUBLISHED: 13:25 04 January 2019

A parklet in Trehurst Street. Picture: Hackney Council

A parklet in Trehurst Street. Picture: Hackney Council

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The first community "parklets" have sprouted up in Hackney after the council backed down and decided they were a good idea after all.

The first phase of the mini-gardens, which are set up in parking bays to “reclaim” residential streets from vehicles, came to life last month.

It followed a U-turn by the council, which had in 2017 repeatedly told Hackney Living Streets campaigner Brenda Puech to remove her “People’s Parking Bay” from London Fields.

Brenda, 55, dug her heels in, and the parklet proved hugely popular with passers-by – racking up 700 signatures on a petition to save it as well as earning Brenda a nomination for the Transport Planning Society’s People’s Award.

Town hall chiefs then conceded and decided to roll out the scheme officially last summer, offering small grants to anyone wanting to set one up.

Now there are five, in Trehurst Street, Homerton; Princess May Road, Stoke Newington; Marcon Place, Hackney, Malvern Road, London Fields and Nightingale Road in Upper Clapton.

They include a community herb garden, a sun porch and two flower gardens. Four more are set to open early this year.

Philippa Bannister, who created a parklet with neighbour Emily Assheton in Marcon Place, said: “We’ve loved making our parklet and turning a parking space from grey to green.

“The street already feels calmer and more interesting with some colour added – we can’t wait to see how the parklet grows over the next few months.”

Emily added: “We hope it can be a catalyst for more community activity – we’d really welcome more people to get involved with maintenance too so if you’d like to be a parklet keeper, get in touch!”

Hackney is one of the greenest borough’s in the country, with one of the highest percentage of people cycling and just 34pc owning motor vehicles. That’s compared to 57pc across London.

Deputy mayor and Hackney’s environment chief Cllr Feryal Demirci said: “Approximately 70 per cent of our residents don’t own a vehicle, yet the kerbside remains dominated by parking.

“Central to our transport strategy is to reduce the dominance of the car, cut air pollution and make our roads more pleasant places to live.

“This scheme means we can support residents to make Hackney’s streets the most attractive and liveable neighbourhoods in London. It is down to the enthusiasm and creativity of residents that this scheme has injected liveability, community and Hackney’s unique personality into our streets.”

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