Public space improvement in Croydon

Reclaim Our Streets
Croydon’s Street Pockets
Aim:
To reclaim the streets for play, socialising and simply hanging out.
Reason:
Social streets are key to community cohesion. They can reconnect people to their local area and neighbours, encourage outdoor activity and reduce crime through passive observation and community good will.
Proposal:
To hand over ‘street pockets’ to local individuals and groups – pocketeers – to use as they wish. These street pockets are carved out of underused space and by removing or reusing unnecessary street furniture.
The street pockets may be tiny (a reclaimed phone-booth) or large (Wellesley Road’s central island). They may be temporary (a dance event) or long-term (a garden). They may be simple (painted hopscotch boxes) or costly (drinks fountains). They may be official (council approved) or fringe (pop-up). They may even appear off-street, within buildings or on roofs.
In short, the street pockets will vary in size, time-scale, cost, use, location and aesthetic. However, they will be unified visually through in-situ graphics. They will be advertised and managed through in-situ information points and online technology.
In-Situ Graphics
– Bright green lines, 15cm thick, painted onto the ground surface, demark the location, size and shape of each street pocket.
– The name of the street pockets’ website – reclaimourstreets – is painted onto the ground surface adjacent to every street pocket.
– Each street pocket guides you to the next street pocket and/or information point by one green line painted in bright green onto the ground surfaces. The long green line connects visually all interventions.
– Pocketeers may choose to incorporate the bright green line into their own installations.
In-Situ Information Points
Information screens at key locations (see image) show a live map of Croydon with all current street pockets indicated and a daily schedule of street pocket events.
Online Technology
Croydon council manage the reclaimourstreets website, which has two primary functions:
– to advertise the location of existing street pockets and timings of street pocket events.
– to curate the street pockets. See Implementation and Curation below.
The street pockets would also be advertised through direct emailing lists and
social media.
Implementation and Curation
1. The council identifies possible street pockets and advertises them on the street itself (with the green painted outlines) and on the reclaimourstreets website.
2. Pocketeers propose activities/uses for the street pockets, either in the council proposed locations or in new locations. These proposals are uploaded onto the website.
3. Registered users can vote for and comment on street pocket proposals.
4. The council acts as curator, deciding which proposals to accept and
agreeing adjustments if necessary.
5. The council enters into a contract with the pocketeer. This contract may
or may not have a monetary value depending on the proposal. However it defines the location, space, use, aesthetic and time-scale of the street pocket.
6. Pocketeers advertise their pocket and any street pocket events on the website.
In addition to the official street pockets, individuals or groups may wish to carry out fringe or pop-up events in the street. These could be advertised on the website. Thus the website becomes a portal for everything going on in the streets of Croydon.
Funding
The council would fund the in-situ graphics and information points, the website and social media. The council would also provide the curators who decide which street pocket proposals are accepted and who manage the pocketeers’ contracts. The funding for the actual street pockets can be flexible – paid for through a mix of council finance, pocketeers’ own money and sponsorship.
Street Pocket Ideas
The local community will decide how and where they wish to reclaim their streets. However the council could kick start things with a few ideas:
….gardens, table-tennis tables, running/sports club meeting points, chess tables, hopscotch, pavement paintings, buskers spots, mobile libraries, bicycle repair and teaching, electronics repair and teaching, books swap, freecycle events, planters, clothes exchange, food banks, climbing walls, basketball hoops, dance zones, drinking fountains, WIFI hotspots, exercise equipment, pianos, local history, art exhibitions, fishponds, slides, outdoor cinema…..
In short, the list of ways we can use our streets is endless. Reclaim our streets!