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Streets into parks

London has less than two thirds of the open green space it needs. Some boroughs are starting to tackle this by turning streets into parks and playgrounds.

London has less than two thirds of the open greenspace it needs to support a population its size 1 so the capital is acutely deficient in parks and playgrounds. ‘Open greenspace’ includes playgrounds, playing fields, sports courts and pitches and public parks and gardens. 1

This is a particular problem in parts of Inner and Central London where green space is at a premium and population density is high.

Car parking in London gobbles up a whopping 1,400 hectares, the equivalent of 10 Hyde Parks, and roads take up even more space. But everywhere we look, there are roads which are not needed as through-routes and which could be closed to cars without impacting at all on the flow of traffic on main roads.

Alfred Place in Camden, shown by the red marker, does not need to be a through route for vehicles. 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 proposing to make the street into a linear park.

Image: Google Maps
Before - image: Google Street View

Before & after – Camden has announced it is turning Alfred Place into a park

After - proposed image: Camden Council/LDA Design

Street parking can be transformed into new parks and safe play spaces

Often parking permits are not all taken up and parking is over-provisioned. Some London boroughs are now looking to find streets where parking permits are not taken up, like the street in Lambeth shown below which was not needed for parking and turned into a play space and safe, attractive walking route.

Before & after – in Lambeth, a section of road was turned into a play space and safe, attractive walking route

After - image: London Cycling Campaign
Before - image: Google Street View
After - image: Google Street View

Elsewhere, particularly in central London, where there is an acute deficiency of green spaces, but also the vast majority of trips are made on foot, converting streets into parks makes even more sense. Camden has plans to turn Alfred Space into a park, for example.

Hackney is also looking at turning streets into parks and has plans for its first ’21st Century Street’ which will convert part of Colvestone Crescent into a parking-free open space for rest and relaxation with secure cycle parking and more greenery. The Crescent is a cul-de-sac near to Ridley Road market with a primary school on it. It has major issues with cars reversing and turning causing pollution and road danger. Residents report lots of incidents of road rage and damage to street furniture and other cars as well.

We want London Boroughs to actively search for streets which could become safe parks or playgrounds, particularly in areas which are deficient in open greenspace.

Please ask your borough to take action now!

A street in Holland where car parking spaces were removed to create bike parking and safe play spaces.

Image: Google Street View
Image: Google Street View
Image: Google Street View

Main image: London Cycling Campaign

  1. Green Space Index, Fields in Trust

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