The one day closure of seventeen High Street parking spaces in Kings Heath last Saturday, 16th August, meant traffic moved more smoothly and local shoppers had a more pleasant visit to the area.
Birmingham City Council gave permission to close off the seventeen High Street parking bays and fill them with turfed, temporary ‘gardens’ and bistro style furniture.
Sustrans staff and volunteers were on hand to talk to local people, shoppers and businesses about how they would like to see the High Street developed and what they thought of the proposed changes.
There was overwhelmingly positive feedback from local people, shoppers and businesses who felt permanent changes would vastly improve their experience of visiting Kings Heath.
People said that the street felt safer, more user friendly and an attractive place to be. They thought that losing a small proportion of the car parking spaces would be far outweighed by the benefits to the local community and to overall safety. The idea of more permanent café spaces, greenery and places to sit along the street was all very popular.
National Express also took an interest to see if less parking would mean a difference to their buses and passengers. They reported: “The feedback from our inspectors was that traffic flowed much more freely… and that there was a general improvement in ambience.”
Yvonne Gilligan, regional director of Sustrans was delighted with the result and said: “Feedback from the public was very positive on Saturday. They welcomed the wider pavements we created on the parking spaces, which no-one seemed to miss. We are pleased to hear from National Express that their monitoring also proved the High Street was easier to move along and that no traffic was slowed or inconvenienced, quite the opposite in fact.”
Jenny Barlow, project lead for Kings Heath DIY Streets Project, said: “Last Saturday we were able to trial one of the outline proposals for the High Street, which is to re-examine on-street parking provision. This will widen pavements, making them more pleasant for pedestrians, increase general safety with shorter crossing distances and reduce congestion.”
The Big Lottery funded project involves Sustrans and Birmingham City Council working together to see what low-cost, innovative changes would be welcomed by local Kings Heath people and businesses to improve the High Street.