USA-style '˜parklets' plan approved for city centre

A San Francisco-inspired idea to create 'vibrant' community spaces in parking bays on two Leeds city centre streets has been approved.

Artist's impression of how the parklet on The Calls might look. Credit: YORKSHIRE DESIGN GROUP.

Leeds City Council is to trial “parklets”, with car spaces being temporarily converted into seating areas including plants and bright colours, on The Calls and Sheaf Street.

The idea is likely to be tested for a period of six to nine months, although no start date has been fixed.

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Locals in the Californian city of San Francisco got the trend started by paying for time on kerb-side parking meters and taking the space over with tables and chairs.

Paul Ellison, managing director of the Yorkshire Design Group architects, approached the council about bringing a similar scheme to Leeds.

He said: “It’s that idea that cities are dominated by cars so why don’t we take a bit back and make it a space for people?

“It will just create a bit of life out in the street, which is always a good thing.”

Youngsters from Leeds College of Building are creating the pieces for space directly opposite 44 The Calls, which will occupy two back-to-back bays and be managed by the Yorkshire Design Group.

The Sheaf Street parklet, which will be run and owned by the council, is to be set up outside Duke Studios in the area which is being regenerated as the South Bank. A total of £10,000 has been allocated for that site.

Leeds Business Improvement District also provided funds of £5,000 to get the project under way on The Calls.

The council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Coun Richard Lewis said: “I’m pleased to welcome this trial of some of the first community-led parklets in England, after being approached by Yorkshire Design Studio who were keen to explore this idea on the Calls.

“We’re also delivering another parklet on Sheaf Street working with local businesses.

“We’re keen to empower business and communities and allow them to take ownership of and invest in their local area.”

He added that they will “provide vibrant, public spaces for everyone to enjoy.

“For the duration of this trial we have agreed to contribute the potential cost of lost parking revenue from these spaces and will review its success going forward.”