The four projects were focussed on working with communities located alongside busy main roads. These roads had been shown to be a barrier to both movement and community development. The community in these locations were disparate and individuals didn’t feel a natural sense of ownership of their immediate environment.
Inspired by low cost reclamation projects in New York, this innovative series of projects supported local communities to ‘reclaim’ a series of ‘Pocket Places for People’ to help re-knit the social and physical fabric of their area. The projects were match funded between the People’s Health Trust and four local authorities; London Borough of Southwark, Southend-on-Sea, Derby and Reading.
“ I think it is great to utilise an unused space, makes an area more interesting and increases a sense of community and a feeling of ownership. ”
Each project gave local people control over their immediate environment and empowered them to work together to improve quality of life for everyone living in or visiting the neighbourhood. The projects worked to develop temporary and semi-permanent changes to street layouts to trial the community’s ideas and designs, so that the community could experience and fully input into the direction of more permanent change.
In some cases these temporary changes have led to permanent physical change and in others they are progressing towards more permanent physical change. However, the role of the interventions wasn’t only to inform permanent built solutions, they also worked to inspire and establish community activities in the space.
- Improved quality of life. Promoting human activity through these urban corridors has helped to heal the division caused by poor infrastructure and makes for a healthier and happier experience of living, working or passing through the neighbourhood.
- Cohesive, empowered communities. All of the action has been community led; empowering local people to feel that they are able to be agents of change in their community.
- Safer streets. The temporary interventions varied from planters and greenery, benches, pianos and colourful patterning on the road, and worked to encourage slower traffic speeds.