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Campaigners turn Bethnal Green Road parking bay into 'parklet' in streets protest

PUBLISHED: 17:00 20 May 2019

The group wants to see more public spaces for people. Picture: Better Streets for Tower Hamlets

The group wants to see more public spaces for people. Picture: Better Streets for Tower Hamlets

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A campaign group parked pot plants in a parking bay to highlight the need to reclaim the streets for people.

Campaigners from Better Streets for Tower Hamlets set up a 'parklet' in Bethnal Green Road. Picture: Better Streets for Tower HamletsCampaigners from Better Streets for Tower Hamlets set up a 'parklet' in Bethnal Green Road. Picture: Better Streets for Tower Hamlets

Activists from Better Streets for Tower Hamlets turned the spot in Bethnal Green Road into a mini-park on Sunday in a bid to draw people's attention to the need for healthier public spaces.

Terry Patterson, from Limehouse, said: "It's great to see people enjoying public space in a creative way.

"Behind this fun event is a serious message. In the face of the pollution and congestion affecting all Londoners, it's time to rethink how we use our streets.

"Let's create space for young people, the elderly, and all residents to walk, cycle, rest, play and enjoy the street."

Terry Patterson, from Limehouse, said: “It’s great to see people enjoying public space in a creative way. Picture: Better Streets for Tower HamletsTerry Patterson, from Limehouse, said: “It’s great to see people enjoying public space in a creative way. Picture: Better Streets for Tower Hamlets

The single space was transformed with seating, plants and parking spaces for bikes turning the bay into what the campaigners dubbed a 'parklet'.

Households in the borough without cars outnumber those which have them by two to one, according to Better Streets for Tower Hamlets. It wants to see traffic levels drop in every ward.

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But in spite of people outnumbering cars, a 'huge amount' of space is devoted to vehicles, the activists say.

Madeleine Pelzel, of Bethnal Green, said: "Surely we can use some of this space for different purposes?

"Why not allow people to use the space? Parklets can be made into lovely places to look at such as a mini-garden, and add a lot to the sense of community on a street.

"You don't have to be a customer of anywhere to sit and enjoy a space like this, and it means you are more likely to meet your neighbours."

London Living Streets, which supports Better Streets for Tower Hamlets, wants every street in the capital to have a 'parklet' with one set up every 50 metres.

Julie Plichon from Shoreditch said: "Today we opened a conversation about public space and how repurposing something as banal as a kerbside can benefit communities.

"We live in increasingly dense environments. Our streets need to be healthy and inclusive spaces. Access to high quality open spaces is crucial, and today we demonstrated how small scale interventions are part of the answer."

For more about the group visit betterstreetsfortowerhamlets.wordpress.com/ or follow @BetterStreetsTH on Twitter.

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