Residents see red over green scheme

Street planter pioneers told to remove flower beds by Town Hall ‘alarmed’ by mixed messages

Friday, 4th March — By Charlotte Chambers

Mayton Street

Neighbours Helena Farstad and Lynne Friedl with Ebba, 5, Hennie, 8, Cameron and Barney the dog

ON the same day that a flurry of press releases were sent out about how the Town Hall plans to turn Islington green and the local press were invited to watch councillors and volunteers shovelling earth, residents in one Islington street felt like they were getting an altogether very different message.

The owners of the Mayton Street planter were simply told: it has to go.

Neighbours Helena Farstad and Lynne Friedl were “alarmed” to be told that they could not keep the planter they so lovingly built in a parking bay at the start of coronavirus lockdown.

According to Islington, the planter was built without consent, and “in contravention of the Highways Act 1980”. As a result, they have proposed to hold a consultation with people living in the street on its future.

Its two creators – who have paid for public liability insurance on it – argue that Islington’s intervention goes deeper than a planter – as important as it is to both them, their families, and the children who attend three nearby schools who all stop to look at the frogs that have set up their home there.

Ms Friedl said: “They don’t want to address the fact that we actually need to repurpose parking spaces because cars are occupying far too large a percentage of the public realm in a borough where the vast majority of people don’t have a car. And why Islington Council cannot grasp that nettle I don’t understand.”

She added: “Under 30 per cent of Islington residents have a car. That means not more than 30 per cent of road space should be dedicated to cars. No one has done this, and this is our big point to Islington. Why don’t you lead the way?”

Another crucial element to their argument is to “de-pave”: not just put in planters but actually rediscover the earth beneath the asphalt.

And they are also distressed that they weren’t involved in discussions with the council about greening Islington, when their planter was the first of its kind in the borough.

A council spokesperson said: “The planter on the Mayton Street carriageway was put in place without authorisation, in contravention of the Highways Act 1980. Furthermore, the current planter is not robust enough to be on the public highway, and this creates a hazard and a risk regarding liability insurance should a vehicle hit it.

“The planters that the council are installing through Islington Greener Together will be constructed to a minimum standard to withstand accidents, and have reflective markings on them so that they are visible at night.

“A consultation will take place so residents from the Mayton Street area can have their say on these plans. The consultation will determine whether residents of Mayton Street and the wider community wish to have a planter in place, and whether the location of the existing planter is the most appropriate or whether an alternative location would be better.”

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