Empowering four communities to reclaim their streets

The projects got people socialising together who wouldn't usually have met

The projects were community-led, giving local people the power to make decisions about where they live

The projects encouraged people to use their streets as places to play

We got local people to improve their street - using paintings, plants and temporary installations

We reclaimed public space and used it for fun activities

Pocket Places for People is a family of projects funded by the People's Health Trust, which improved people’s health and wellbeing by empowering communities to make changes to these streets and urban spaces.
The challenge

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.

The solution

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.

- Louise Norris, Peckham resident

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.

The impact
  • 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.
Want to find out more?

Find out how we’re transforming local communities UK-wide, and making it easier for millions of people to walk and cycle for their everyday journeys.

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