CDA’s first pocket park is officially open! It was great to celebrate the completion of this new green space on Clerkenwell Close, as part of an event for the London Festival of Architecture.
The pocket park has come to fruition through a close partnership with Islington Council’s Greening the Public Realm Programme Manager, Charlotte Glazier, and our engagement and delivery partners YesMake. It reflects Islington's commitment to increasing green space in the borough, as well as CDA's commitment to supporting more resilient and sociable shared spaces for everyone.
In collaboration with local residents and businesses like SimpsonHaugh, WilkinsonEyre, Zaha Hadid Foundation and Quarterre, the creation of this green space is proof of the potential of collaborative place-shaping.
It also underscores the power of sustainable design. YesMake use timber from trees felled locally in Southwark, to reduce the structure's embodied carbon. A mechanism for rainwater catchment has also been built into the planters, which offer the additional benefit of increasing biodiversity and improving air quality.
From a transport perspective, the pocket park serves as a testament to the potential of de-centring road space from vehicle traffic. An old motorcycle bay is now a place for people to safely gather and socialise, while anchoring a low pollution walking route that runs from Exmouth Market to Farringdon Station.
So all of this is to say that, even if the project ended here, the pocket park would already stand alone as a small success in the BID’s wider public realm strategy.
But the powerful thing about this project is that it isn’t slated to end here. Our partner at Islington, Charlotte Glazier, is the Council’s Greening the Public Realm Programme Manager. Last year, she appointed a team at WSP to put in a grant application for Defra’s Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund. The application was successful, and she’s now using it to spearhead Islington’s new Green Finance for Pocket Parks Framework.
CDA’s pocket park has been the pioneering, testbed project delivered under this framework – which is a huge honour. We were given a spotlight at a Green Finance panel during EcoCity World Summit earlier this June, and were equally delighted to showcase it to members of the public in a soft opening this week.
In the end, our hope is that the lessons we learned from being a "pilot project" can help lay the groundwork for more strategic street-greening efforts like this one, throughout Islington and beyond. We are excited to keep working with Charlotte, and to see how the NEIRF programme builds on our team's initial success.
Looking to test out the new pocket park? You'll find it just a few minutes’ walk from Farringdon Station, on Clerkenwell Close.