Edinburgh survey turning parking spaces into mini-parks

Wednesday April 5th 2023


Calvert Avenue Parklet, Shoreditch in London. Image: Meristem Design (2017).

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Donald Turvill

Kerbside parking spaces across Edinburgh could be transformed into mini-parks with benches and planters if plans are progressed by the council.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh are working with the council to collect city residents’ views on the introduction of ‘parklets’ in a survey running until Friday 7th April.

Responses could help to inform the local authority on whether there is scope to roll them out and the project’s next steps.

Council transport and environment convener Scott Arthur said it was “something worth considering” but added effective and regular maintenance of the spaces would be key to their success.

Parklets are usually created by converting one or two on-street parking bays into a small public space with installation of temporary structures, outside seating areas, plants and cycle parking. Some have already been introduced in cities including London and Leeds.

The questionnaire describes them as “small community gathering space for people to stop, relax, and socialise”.

Other potential features for parklets include play areas for children, exercise bikes and performance spaces.

However Councillor Arthur said he was mindful of “what we had on Cockburn Street and George Street,” referencing controversial wooden structured built for hospitality outdoor seating during the pandemic.

“Businesses were able to extend their space onto the road and it came with problems,” he said.

“It is something we have to think quite carefully about the negative side of it, some of the stuff I’ve seen pictures of – and we’ve done it in Edinburgh as well – has been temporary installations and it can look pretty naff to be honest.

He said putting benches in parking spaces “can look pretty awful if it’s done on the cheap,” adding: “You have to do these things right.

“If it’s done well and maintained it could work – but maintenance is key.

“I gave a broad commitment whenever we do these schemes that it’s about improving accessibility for people with a range of disabilities. We’re never going to do one of these schemes and have less access, less disabled parking spaces. We have to get this right absolutely.

“With Spaces for People, we’ve learnt that it’s quite easy to alienate both the business community and people with disabilities.”

The ‘Building community evidence for urban parklets in Edinburgh’ study asks respondents “questions about parklets, your neighbourhood, and about you”.

Anyone over 16 can take part until April 7 online online here.

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