The Parklet of Possibilities – Swapping Out Car Parking Spaces For People Friendly Places.
Our Streets Chorlton is teaming up with traders on Beech Road and pupils and teachers from the Islamic High School For Girls on High Lane to swap-out their car parking spaces for people-friendly places this coming November and December.
We are installing a parklet in two locations, touring it at both a trading environment and then onto a school environment to gather people’s views about spaces for people, car parking as a right how public space relates to climate change issues.
What Is A Parklet?
A parklet is a reclaimed and repurposed parking space. They are popular all over Europe and originate from San Francisco, where there was a people powered movement to create more spaces to rest, relax and re-wild public spaces and repurpose car parking spaces for more people to use. Sometimes the spaces include things like gym equipment, bike racks, play areas and even chess boards.
Elsewhere, they have proven to bring the community together, enhance spaces that were previously unloved and support business by generating footfall and additional spend on local high streets.
Working with the traders and pupils at the two participating locations, Our Streets Chorlton will install a temporary, informal and low-intervention space that will reprioritise people over cars, repurpose two concrete car parks and return them to the community for nature and play for a short time.
Where Will The ‘Parklet of Possibilites’ Be Located?
Location 1 – Land in front of Democracy PR Offices on Beech Road. Chorlton
The first swap out is on the popular and bustling Beech Road. A prominent high street location. The car park at the front of Democracy PR’s offices will become home to ’the parklet of possibilities’ between Thursday the 25th of November and Sunday the 5th of December.
Image: Democracy PR’s office car park on Beech Road.
Location 2 – Islamic High School For Girls Car Park- High Lane, Chorlton
The second swap out is on the staff and visitor car park situated on High Lane. A busy street with a narrow pavement that many school age children use to travel to and from homes to other schools nearby. A really good location to challenge the idea of a large space at a visible entrance point to the school solely dedicated to manoeuvring and parking cars on.
Image: Staff and Visitor Car Park – High Lane
Who’s Involved And Why?
Beech Road Traders
The Beech Road Traders are keen to test the concept of a child-friendly space on their well loved high street that supports people to dwell on the street for longer. Jen from Democracy PR has offered up the staff car parking spaces (5 of them) for the duration of the pop-up to try one out. The parklet will reside in the car park with additional space around it to allow more space for play and low key events.
It will launch on the same day as the Christmas light switch on!
Beech Road is a multi-purpose street with traders, visitors, passers by and residents all sharing it. Our Streets Chorlton aims to create a simple and safe, visible resting and socialising space for people, with an emphasis on providing a street-level informal play space for children. A family space to enjoy.
Space for children to play and interact at street level has repeatedly been identified by traders, residents and local schools during various conversations and workshops over the course of our project (specifically away from the designated public park nearby)
Manchester Islamic High School For Girls
Following on from a really valuable ‘re-imagining’ workshop with the eco-team pupils at the Islamic High School For Girls in Summer, we have worked with Jamila Kossar MBE, who is the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development coordinator to find a prominent and suitable location on the visitor and staff car park.
Jamila has spoke about the hope she has to create a welcoming space at the public facing part of the school on High Lane and explore the schools relationship with the wider community and to use it as a platform to discuss active travel, climate change and plan to make the school even more green in the longer term.
The parklet is intended to act as a low-cost, informal and safely designed space for people to use with ease and we intend it to be accessible to all. We welcome feedback on the temporary structure and are keen to hear what other things people would like to see from future parklets.
Original design considerations
The parklet design fits the brief of its original purpose of extending a pavement/footpath and removing an on-street car parking space on the highway and thus, it is designed and built as a raised platform to align with a standard kerb height. This would mean, if it were to be placed on a high street location on the carriageway/road, it would be fitted flush to the kerb to create level access and accessible to all.
Location choice and design perimeters
At present, there is no guidance in place for parklet implementation in Manchester and as such it has not been possible to experience a parklet trial on the public highway/road(yet).
Adapting for private car parking space.
So we have adapted our original project brief to work within new parameters including private car parking spaces in and around Chorlton. We have found willing participants to help showcase the temporary parklet structure. Both chosen locations do not have a kerbside but the principal design has not changed.
The reason for retaining the original design is to showcase ‘how it would work’ practically on a roadside location. We’ve kept the raised platform to gesture its wider intention as an intervention that can extend a pavement (and can be used in the future!)
It also creates more of a raised platform/stage to stimulate conversation and act as a visible, distinct space to promote the development of the concept right here in Chorlton.
To allow for the new location, we have now included an accessible ramp and enough space for a wheelchair or buggy to safely turn (by removing some bolted down furniture and replacing it with a corner bench built into the back of the parklet) to ensure more people can come and enjoy the space.
V2 of parklet design for carriageway
What We’ll Be Doing on the Parklet!
We will be hosting a range of activities and engagement that will compliment the parklet without being over programmed or too resource heavy. We want to highlight the parklet and also retain a low-key installation.
We hope this will embed the idea of parklets into the community in a gentle way and help people feel empowered to use the space freely and to imagine other public spaces to transform.
We want people to make up their own minds about it, ask questions about it and use it to sit, relax and contemplate during periods of downtime on the space. We don’t want it to always be the feature of the street but embed it into the overall atmosphere of the spaces we’ve installed it.
We and our partnering locations also invite the community to use the parklet in a neighbourly way. It will be open access for the public to enjoy (think of it like a big bench that is always in place but not always in use, when it gets dark for example!)
Here’s some of the activities planned on Beech Road.
Make sure to come along to our first face-to-face community forum ( since covid made us go online!)being hosted on the parklet. More details here
We’ll also be launching a ‘Design Your Own Parklet’ competition with three chances to win £20 shopping vouchers to spend in Chorlton. The Chorlton Pound! Look out for more info soon on how to enter!
We’re Asking People In Chorlton To Let Us Know What They Think
We want to be able to measure the impact of the pop-up, so we have a couple of ways to do this. We will be asking people their views on the idea of a parklet so we will conduct a “Would you like to see more spaces for socialising, rest and play around Chorlton?” interactive poll on the site alongside asking the question at our forum!
We will also have a large map for people to suggest additional locations for people firendly space and a ‘pin the parklet’ drop activity.
We will also be launching a commonplace survey, that asks the people of Chorlton about ‘ What would make them choose to drive less?’ so look out for Your Journeys popping up on social media and in your inbox soon.
Manchester Youth Council have created an amazing resource and tool in the climate wheel which we will be using to start conversations around the eight themes within, with a ‘ spin the climate wheel’ prop and post-it event for passers by to interact with. They’ll even be some wild flower seed rewards for having a go!
So come on down and say hello to us. looking forward to chatting with you on the parklet of possibilities Chorlton!