Grey to green: help redesign London's streets

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By Alice Roberts
24th February 2021

We’re looking for volunteer urban design professionals who can help design and, create visualisations of, street transformations, in support of local Better Streets campaigns around London.

What’s the Grey to Green campaign about?

We want to work with local campaign groups to support the reclamation of grey space (road carriageway and car parking) to create healthier, safer, more pleasant streets for recreation, greening and play or to create space for walking and cycling. We are also promoting the idea that whole streets or sections of streets can become parks, in particular in areas which are deficient in open or green space. This work will support two of our campaigns: GreenSpace4All and the Healthy Streets Scorecard.

What would we like you to do?

We are looking for volunteers with professional skills to help local better streets campaign groups design, and create mock-ups for, streetscene improvements. These improvements might be small or large:

SMALL SCHEMES

  • These could be as simple as showing how a pavement would look without clutter (including street trees!) while also showing where the clutter (including trees!) could be placed e.g. on build-outs in the road, taking space from car parking while reclaiming space for pedestrians.
  • A smaller scheme might also be the creation of a ‘parklet’ or cycle hangar to take the place of one parking space.

MEDIUM SIZED SCHEMES

  • A medium scale scheme might involve working out how traffic could be removed or calmed while incorporating streetscene improvements, for example helping design a Low Traffic Neighbourhood proposal for the local group to put forward.
  • Another medium scale scheme might involve removal of parking and introduction of bollards or planters at either end of a section of a street to make it free from cars and traffic, making it suitable for relaxation and play, perhaps with a parklet or cycle hangar too.

LARGE SCHEMES

  • Larger schemes might involve wholesale change of a street into a park (see our Streets into Parks blog), or the removal of all parking and through traffic from district centres, perhaps leaving space for buses and cycle paths where needed.

General principles

  • We want these schemes to be realistic and implementable so we want to propose, as far as possible, low-cost interventions like suspension of parking bays, removal of clutter and use of road markings, planters and attractive street furniture with perhaps some limited works like carriageway build-outs. This will not always be possible and it might be more appropriate or desirable to propose and mock-up a scheme which is costly.
  • The schemes should focus on reclaiming space given to car parking or car use but should retain access for emergency and utility vehicles.
  • The schemes should consider removing some parking spaces, but should also consider how car parking spaces can be consolidated or less spread-out, for example within housing estates, to create space for play, planting or recreation, moving parking to the nearby periphery but enabling access to households. This reflects the need for practicalities for car owners who may resist if parking is moved too far away.

  • Ultimately, what is designed, and the visuals created, should enable the local group to gather support, by enabling them to show ‘before & after’ images and explain simply and clearly what changes they would like to see. This will help them to gather further support from the community but also go to their local councillors and decision-makers with a ‘concrete’ proposal, the benefits of which should be clear to see.
  • Since street improvement schemes are likely to involve restricting parking or the flow of traffic, we will have people on hand to advise what is likely to be possible from a technical transport-engineer point of view, but we’d also like to hear from professionals with transport engineering skills who might be able to offer this kind of support too.

What will you gain? 

  • We would like you to gain experience for your CV
  • You’ll be helping local campaigners to achieve their goals, and in doing that you’ll be helping improve London’s street environment
  • We hope to create a network of volunteer professionals helping with this campaign so you’ll meet like-minded people who can offer mutual support

How to get involved

  • If you are interested in getting involved and think you have the right skills – please email alice@cprelondon.org.uk with your CV and a short covering letter

Thank you for reading!