Initial work to bring more greenery into the city centre’s High Street has started.
The idea to make the High Street and surrounding roads more green through the use of parklets and planters is a key theme in the recently approved city centre strategy and investment plan.
A series of councillor workshops which also included attendance from the Youth Council took place earlier this month to present initial ideas and get feedback on things that could be implemented in time for the summer.
Cllr Ian Gilbert, cabinet member for economic development, regeneration and housing, said: “We know from the consultation last summer that people and business want to see more green space in the High Street and we agree. Doing this would improve biodiversity, provide shading, improve air quality, provide more sustainable drainage systems, and just as importantly enhance the visual appearance of the high street and encourage more people to visit and spend their time.
“A number of opportunities for the green spaces have been identified and these could either be on top of existing infrastructure such as green rooves and street planters for example, or to be built in to the ground depending on the location, opportunity and budget.
“Introducing parklets and little green spaces, some of which will also include seating and potentially bicycle parking, will build on the regeneration work in London Road which has already led to new investment and an improved feel and more greenery at that entrance to the city centre. These proposals would add to that more pleasant feel and along with the successes at The Victoria Centre, will continue an upward curve for the prospects of the High Street.”
Five locations have been identified where more green space could be introduced, including the north approach to the High Street (behind the Odeon and New Look), Southchurch Road, the intersection of High Street and Queens Road, the area of the High Street by the railways bridge and the southern end of the High Street leading to the seafront. The designs will be based on the principle that they will not require significant disruption, digging up large areas of the high street or the relocation of services.
The proposals will now be worked up taking on board feedback form the workshops with the intention of using community infrastructure levy (CIL) funding to deliver the project. There could also be opportunities for businesses to sponsor the parklets and this detail will come out after funding has been secured and as the design and construction work moves ahead.
Some examples of greening and parklets can be found on our Flickr page.