A new installation of parklets has happened on Colchester high street this week in four locations. This new initiative has been led by Our Colchester Business Improvement District (BID) in collaboration with Colchester Borough Council and Essex County Council creating additional green space and public seating in the heart of the town centre.
As a result of the pandemic, a need was seen for a greater variety of outdoor seating in the town centre. The installation of parklets aims to produce many positive benefits to the public and visitors in Colchester. Increased greenery and planting will feature within the parklets furthering the BIDs current planting project ‘BID in Bloom’ which sees key entry points and independent businesses in the town centre decorated with seasonal flowers.
The parklets are set to increase the dwell time of visitors in the town centre and provide a pleasant seating area to be enjoyed by all. Increasing the amount of good outdoor seating the town centre will not only help visitors socialise safely but provide a fully accessible space for everyone to utilize.
Colchester is the first location in Essex to have parklets installed and they have been specifically designed to stay in keeping with the local surroundings and complement the many historical buildings along the high street.
A schedule of maintenance is in place for the parklets including a dedicated Facilities Operative who will carry out litter picks and checks of the structures to ensure a consistently pleasant seating environment. A contract is also held with the planting company to ensure weekly maintenance of the greenery including the silver birch trees to ensure there is no wear and tear through use of the parklets. The plans for the Parklets have gone through strict testing of materials to ensure a durable structure fit for purpose and ease of maintenance. All parklets have been strategically placed with CCTV cameras in view and high levels of cleaning will occur each morning.
BID Manager Sam Good says “It’s excellent to see the parklets finally in place on the high street. Placemaking and creating an experience for visitors to the town centre is essential for recovery from the pandemic and the installation of these parklets will increase the clean and friendly appearance of the town allowing a more pleasant trip for both visitors and residents.
The parklets are for everyone to use all year round, be it a break in between shopping, enjoying a takeaway coffee, reading a book, or waiting outside whilst their friends or partners visit a nearby store. The parklets are there to be used and enjoyed. I’m really looking forward to seeing them in full use. “
Cllr Simon Crow, Colchester Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Environment and Sustainability, said: “I’m delighted to see such an innovative idea brought to life on Colchester High Street. These small areas of tranquillity offer a place to reconnect with friends and family and improve the look and feel of the high street by introducing more trees and greenery, increasing the sense of pride in our town. Research suggests that these small parks help to actively increase footfall and offer economic benefits by encouraging visitors to stay and enjoy what our town has to offer by way of local businesses and tourism.”