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1,000 new 'streetparks' for London

Alice Roberts
By Alice Roberts
5th January 2022

Let’s turn grey space green! We want each London borough to transform a minimum of 30 of its streets into parks and play spaces. With 33 boroughs, that’s around 1,000 much-needed new parks for London.

We believe everybody deserves beautiful, tree-filled and grassy places in which to play, meet the neighbours and just watch the world go by. Creating ‘streetparks’ is a realistic way to achieve this and they are slowly becoming a reality.

Not all our streets are needed for parking or as through-routes for cars. Streetparks turn ‘grey space’, dedicated to roads and car parking, into greenspace, community open space and play space. London has just half the green space it needs for a population its size and the situation is much worse in some inner London boroughs. So we think it’s time to turn our grey space green.

This is what was Murrain Road in Hackney.

Here are the plans for Alfred Place in Camden – before and after. This is an area where the vast majority of people travel on foot and by public transport. The many people working in the area have precious few options to get some air during their lunch break. By closing the road to traffic (except for access to buildings) the London Borough of Camden is, at the time of writing, making this street into a linear park.

This is Van Gogh Way in Lambeth – before & after

This is a street in Amsterdam

This is in Paris courtesy of @CommutedeParis on Twitter – before & after

This one is in Barcelona courtesy of @QAGreenways on Twitter – before & after

This one is just a dream – before & after! Courtesy of @TulseHillLTN on Twitter. We want to help local community groups or campaigners to create similar visualisations. Message alice@cprelondon.org.uk if you would like to discuss.

Removing parking is an important aspect of ‘streetparks’. This image of the Mall in central London – closed to traffic but also free from parking, shows how the absence of parking makes the space more attractive as well as safe. The space essentially becomes part of St James’ Park on weekends.

Boroughs can identify areas with low car ownership which are often areas with lots of people living in flats, often with many people on low incomes. These can be matched up with parts of the borough which lack green space. Those should be the locations for a minimum of thirty new parks in each London borough.

If a major scheme like those shown above is unaffordable, instead boroughs can identify streets which are not needed for through-traffic, place bollards or planters to make them traffic-free, remove the car parking and enable kids to play out with light-touch measures like street markings. The community can also be enabled to create greening and seating with ‘parklets’ under a license agreement.

Councils can use planters instead of bollards which are also a relatively cost-effective way of creating safe streets. These are now becoming a common site in London as boroughs introduce ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhoods’ to promote walking and cycling, like those in Hackney shown here. The street would need to be entirely closed to traffic to become a streetpark, though.

Boroughs can enable residents to make spaces attractive by removing parking and allowing them to create ‘parklets’ in their street, with planters for flowers or seating. Here are some parklets in Hackney. They can be seating or planting, or both: either way they are a cost-effective way of making people-friendly ‘park streets’. Find out about the London Parklets Campaign here.

There are many streets where there is more space given to parking than is actually needed by residents. This often becomes clear when Controlled Parking is brought in – as happened with this street in an Inner London borough which was relatively close to a train station.

BEFORE

If a major scheme is too expensive… the bigger transformation can be brought in over time as and when funds allow.

Image credits:

Murrain Road image

Alfred St images After  and Before: Google Maps
Boy and man playing cricket: Sustrans here
Parklet with flowers – CPRE London image.
Parklet with people
Introduction of Controlled Parking. Image with lots of parked cars: Google Maps. Image with far fewer parked cars: CPRE London image.
Trees between car parking spaces
Marylebone High St proposals
Amsterdam play areas – Google Map

This blog was originally published in October 2020. It was updated in January 2022.