Council hails installation of ‘parklet’ on high street

Councillors join row on social media over whether £35k scheme provides ‘value for money’, reports James Cracknell

Deputy leader Ian Barnes beside the new 'parklet' in Chase Side, Southgate (credit Enfield Council)
Deputy leader Ian Barnes beside the new ‘parklet’ in Chase Side, Southgate (credit Enfield Council)

A £35,000 ‘parklet’ has been installed on a high street by Enfield Council to promote sustainable travel.

The colourful seating and planting area on Chase Side in Southgate – funded by Transport for London – is part of efforts to encourage sustainable transport such as walking and cycling, and to boost business, with trials in other areas suggesting such schemes can increase local trade by 30%.

The parklet creates a small public space which, according to the council, “encourages social interaction and promotes walking and cycling”. In some London boroughs parklets have been installed directly on the roadway, removing parking spaces in the process, but in Southgate the facility has been placed on a section of wide pavement in Chase Side.

The Southgate parklet is wheelchair accessible, with interactive features designed for people who are visually impaired and hard of hearing. It includes benches, bar stools with a table, planters, a shelter with a green roof, bike racks, and a display describing “a brief history of Enfield”.

Among the parklet’s supporters are Dionne John, who is part of Southgate Taskforce, a group of volunteers aiming to improve the local area. She said: “The new parklet increases the green space in Southgate and is a great place for the community to connect.”

However, some residents took to Twitter to question whether the parklet was really worth the £35,000 spent on it. Julian Dixon wrote: “Disgraceful waste. [For that money] at least 35 benches could have been put down around the borough to encourage active travel.”

Some were more supportive, such as Paul O’Brien who said: “Fair play Enfield and to all those that are making cycling better in the borough!”

The debate around the parklet on Twitter also included a clash between the current and former deputy council leaders. Daniel Anderson, who held the post between 2018 and 2019 before he quit the Labour Party last year, posted an image of litter around the parklet and questioned whether it was “a good use of money”, prompting his successor Ian Barnes to fire back and suggest he was trying to “conjure up anger”.

Highlighting the benefits of the parklet, Cllr Barnes said: “I hope that residents will take the chance to walk or cycle into the town so they can shop locally if they are able, lock their bike up at the parklet, and do their bit to fight climate change.”

Enfield Council is now considering a wider roll-out of parklets around the borough and residents are being invited to suggest locations via the council website:
Visit letstalk.enfield.gov.uk/parklets