#TrendingNews Blog Business Entertainment Environment Health Lifestyle News Analysis Opinion Science Sports Technology World News
Exeter City Parklets Garner Mixed Reactions

On January 29 2024, Exeter City Council announced the installation of two ‘parklets’ within the city on Fore Street and Musgrave Row. The aim of the parklets was to address the lack of seating on congested pavements and expand public space. A local business was commissioned to make and install both parklets. 


According to the BBC, Councillor Laura Wright said the parklets would be ‘free, accessible hubs for socialisation and relaxing.’


These parklets were meant to repurpose unused parking spaces and convert them into spaces for residents to rest, relax or socialise. The installations cost £50,000 and were commissioned by InExeter.  


In an interview with the BBC, Nicola Wheeler, CEO of InExeter said, “There is a growing demand for more spaces for people to dwell in our city, which compliments the introduction of green infrastructure, such as parklets, which provide a much needed resting space from the hustle and bustle of the urban environment, supporting our member businesses as well as benefitting the local community and visitors.”


Business and shop owners in the city have welcomed the parklets. Some of them even hope that it would make Fore Street more pedestrian-friendly. 


In an interview with Devon Live, a staff member of the Glorious Art House café admitted that she was stunned to hear people did not like the parklets. She remarked that she heard customers having a positive attitude towards the installations. “I think it’s so nice, it gives an outside space. I haven’t seen anyone using it, but the weather’s been quite bad. Maybe, unless they have umbrellas or something to cover it. I don’t see anyone sitting out there in the rain.”, she said.


Jack Versen, owner of Hops and Craft, said, “It’s a good idea, but I feel there should probably be more of them to legitimise it as an idea. It looks a bit lonely and I never see anyone using it. I know it’s early days, but I feel like if there was a lot more of them around, people would get used to them and maybe use them. Or find another way to achieve something similar.” His thoughts are well-founded. For the parklets to be considered a successful installation, they need to be legitimised in the eyes of the public. Installing more parklets and encouraging people to use them would show people that they have a legitimate purpose of creating relaxing rest spaces in Exeter and positively impact society. It will then encourage people to sit in them just for a chat or even to study or work in a space outside of the home. 


Marie Buckfield, co-owner of The Belt Makers & Friend, expressed her delight in the parklets. “It’s a brilliant splash of colour in the area, it represents how Exeter is trying to be greener. This is another example of that,” she gleamed. 


The parklets do aid Exeter to become greener, as they take up parking spots and essentially discourage the use of cars in the narrow lanes of Fore Street. Giving people spaces to relax or take a break while shopping incentivises people to walk around town. Marie Buckfield’s comments further support this. “It’s using up just one parking space so we’re cutting down a little bit of carbon and replacing it with plants and giving dwell space for people to enjoy the summer sun. One would expect that the people sit outside a bit less in the winter, but people still use benches around the trees that we’ve got up and down the High Street. It’s a meeting space,” she stated.


The parklets have been installed for a few weeks now, and many residents of Exeter have called them ‘ugly’ or a ‘waste of money’, according to Devon Live. Moreover, after the parklets received online backlash, InExeter acknowledges that there may be ‘varied perspectives in the community’ over the parklets after fears of anti-social behaviour arose. 


Many residents of Exeter and citizens online stated that the parklets were a waste of council money and that the council should focus on diverting funds to fundamental issues such as potholes. This raises the question of Exeter City Council's allocation of funds and what problems they deem more urgent to tackle. If they have put filling up potholes on the back burner, it would mean that they believe antisocial behaviour is a more grave epidemic that needs to be fixed. 

Moreover, the parklets are also a way to fill up unused space and create a positive impact. While Fore Street is congested, Musgrave Row is quite empty. According to Buckfield, Musgrave Row, “It’s an underused part of the city, why not put something nice there so people can enjoy the space?”


Nonetheless, it can be said that two completely different issues are being lumped together. Anti-social behaviour might not be the issue that the City Council is trying to address; it may instead be improving pedestrian accessibility or congestion. It could also be a move towards encouraging people to walk instead of using cars by providing parklets as an incentive. 


The impact of the parklets on the city and the residents’ final verdict on the parklets are yet to be seen as they have only recently been installed. Instead, it is vital for residents to give the parklets a fighting chance as they could be a solution to the city’s congestion problems. They could also aid in the sustainability of the city. For the council, it is vital not to divert all their energy into sustainable causes but also to address issues that residents bring up, such as potholes. At the end of the day, their main job is to serve the interests of the people of Exeter. 


Thus, with time, the Council will be successful in their endeavour of using the parklets to create relaxing positive spaces for people, but that will only happen once they are legitimised in their eyes, as stated by Versen.


Image Source: Devon Live


Edited by: Vidhi Dujodwala

Share This Post On


Leave a comment

You need to login to leave a comment. Log-in