An opportunity to increase dwell time in Fleet
In May the government announced the Re-opening High Streets Safely (RHSS) Welcome Back (RHSS) Fund, with District Councils encouraged to invite Business Improvement Districts and Town & Parish Councils to suggest projects to boost the look and feel of town centres to make high streets welcoming.
The BID put forward a proposal for more seating in the town, with up to three new seating areas with planting on the widest areas of the pavement in the form of parklets, with seating and planting, to make Fleet more attractive and welcoming and increase dwell time in the town.
This project is at the very early stages. Hart District Council have approved the project to go through to the next stage which includes approval from Hampshire County Council and developing the business case to request funding from the government. If you would like to get more involved in this project, provide input into the business case and give your feedback on the proposal do let me know.
What are Parklets?
Parklets are small areas of seating space with softening elements such as planting. They are being used more often on urban pavements, particularly over the last year when there was an increase demand for outdoor seating. The far-ranging benefits of parklets are starting to emerge about how these small pockets of green space could play a pivotal role in a town centre’s future by not only providing areas for people to socialise, but also encouraging cycling and bringing nature into our town to reduce some of the effects of climate.
We know that our town centre has lots of wide pavement areas, but feel that these great spaces are not currently serving our residents and visitors in the most effective way. In fact one of the things we have noticed over the last year or so is the number of people who have been walking up and down the high street, in groups, with take-away coffee cups but with few pleasant places for people to meet friends, stop for a while, sit and chat!
Hart District Council’s Cabinet gave its backing to our application at their meeting on 1st July. A business case, containing three quotes from suppliers, has to now be submitted to the Government for the release of the funding. In addition, certain licences and permissions are required. This includes Hampshire County Council to provide the relevant licensing agreement for the installation, Hart District Council as the administrators of the funding and (in case any items of existing street furniture might need to be removed/relocated to make sure the parklets go in the optimum position) Fleet Town Council as the owner of the existing benches.
The Re-opening High Streets Safely Welcome Back Fund
The Re-opening High Streets Safely Welcome Back Funding was announced in May as part of £56 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) allocated to councils in England to support recovery from the pandemic. Hart District Council has been allocated £86,003 which can be used to:
- boost the look and feel of high streets by investing in street planting, parks, green spaces and seating areas;
- hold street markets, install signage and floor markings to encourage social distancing;
- improve town centres by planting flowers or removing graffiti.