News | 31 May 2022
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More Cuba Street businesses giving parklets a go

Three Cuba Street businesses got a taste of what it’s like to have some extra outdoor space over autumn, and now another three are giving it a go.

Two parklets on upper Cuba Street with tables and chairs and customers.

We knew there were local businesses keen to try transforming an adjacent car parking space or two into places where people could meet for a coffee, eat or spend time relaxing, so we developed a kit of materials that can be easily moved to make trialling that experience possible.

Rather than imagining what it might be like, it’s an easy way to see the difference a change like this makes to a neighbourhood. 

Trial parklets have been in place outside Fred’s Sandwiches, Duck Island Ice Cream and Loretta for the past couple of months and have now been moved and set up near Dirty Burger, Santeria and Fidel’s Cafe. They’ll be there for about two months and then relocated.

These types of small outdoor spaces work well in cities worldwide and have already been successfully trialled in Newtown, Allen and Marion Streets and other parts of Cuba Street.

While not every location is suitable, parklets can bring more people, vitality and activity to a street while leaving footpaths clear for people passing through. They can also add more plants, art, seating, and bike or scooter parking to a neighbourhood, supporting zero or low carbon ways of moving around the city.

Parklet outside Nolita cafe on Cuba Street

James Pedersen, co-owner of Loretta, says the parklet trial helped provide extra profile for their business and a better connection to the street. 

“It gives Wellingtonians great spaces to enjoy the sun without having to travel down to the waterfront for example. It also makes the street less car-focussed and more people friendly.

“We’re definitely keen to explore making some outdoor space adjacent to the business more permanent.”  

James says trials like this challenge and alter perceptions around the value of street space. 

“We see using street space this way as potentially much more valuable and beneficial to businesses, our customers, and people who use this area, than having it occupied by parked cars.”  

He’s keen to keep talking with Council staff about ways to make creating outdoor spaces even easier for businesses by for instance having approved barriers or planter boxes that can be easily incorporated into designs.

Duck Island Ice Cream’s Wellington manager Rebekah Bakker says the Council’s kit of parklet components made their trial really easy to use.

“All we had to do was pop out a couple of our own tables and it was all set up. 

“It was great to be able to offer outdoor seating for our customers, especially on sunny autumn days. It also got used a fair bit by other people before the store opened. There isn’t a lot of seating or rest areas at this end of Cuba, so it was good to see.”

We’re keen to collaborate with more businesses keen to trial a parklet, and we’re also working with businesses interested in investing in longer-term street changes.

As an incentive, and one of the ways we’re supporting businesses through COVID times, is by not charging any fees for the use of street space approved for parklets until at least March 2023.

Since the fee-free offer was announced in March, we’ve had 15 applications for more permanent outdoor spaces. Two, outside Mockingbird in Courtenay Place and Nolita in Cuba Street, are complete, and another four have been approved. So expect to see more taking shape over coming months and more places to relax outside next summer.

Information and a design guide are available on the Council’s website so interested businesses can work out if an area near them could be used for a parklet. 

As parklets are usually adjacent to a traffic lane, lots of things are considered to make sure a location and design is going to be safe and suitable. Council staff will be available to help anyone interested, and in places where parklets are an option, the aim is to provide approval for them within seven to 10 days so businesses can get them in place as quickly as possible.