City residents provide feedback on the concept of kerbside parklets

A survey to gauge public opinion on the potential to transform some kerbside parking spaces in Edinburgh into community spaces, also known as ‘parklets,’ has shown 58 per cent of residents are in favour of having them in their neighbourhood.

Support was greatest among under-45s and non-car owning residents.

Of the 42 per cent of respondents who did not wish to see a parklet in their neighbourhood, most were over 55 and owned a car.

Nearly 800 people took part in the University of Edinburgh study via online platforms, social media and face-to-face interviews.

Business owners and community organisations were among those engaging with academics from the University’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

Photo © Humphrey Bolton (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Next steps

Enthusiasm for parklets was greatest in Morningside, Portobello and Leith where several streets were suggested as possible locations, while areas such as Corstorphine showed less interest.

The study team is to carry out further research in districts that drew only a limited response.

Researchers are recommending that the City of Edinburgh Council explore the feasibility of implementing parklets in specific locations which have community support.

Findings will also be used to help shape emerging policies on street space allocation across the city.

A new kind of public space

The survey describes parklets as “small community gathering space for people to stop, relax, and socialise”.

Edinburgh has some commercial kerbside build-outs but has not yet introduced the parklet concept, which is based around providing a fully public and non-commercial space. Some parklets have already been introduced in cities including London and Leeds.

Parklets are usually created by converting one or two on-street parking bays into a small public space with installation of temporary structures, seating areas, plants and cycle parking.

Parklets need to be supported by the local community and so this research looked at whether residents would be interested in having one in their neighbourhood.

Lead investigator and OPENspace Co-Director, Dr Simon Bell said, “This research is a good example of how the collection of data about a topic, in this case parklets, can be used to provide better evidence for use in planning and policymaking. It shows that reliable data can support other aspects of the planning process and can balance situations where, otherwise, effective lobbying might unfairly affect a planning outcome.”

The study was supported by the University of Edinburgh’s Data-Driven Innovation programme – part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal and funded by the UK and Scottish Governments.

Building community evidence for urban parklets in Edinburgh – Final Report