Driffield NewsNEWS

Parklet: Welcome addition or waste of £42,000?

Just a few weeks since it was installed as the newest addition to Driffield’s high street, public opinion on the Middle Street South parklet appears to have changed.

Initially, we reported how the parklet, the only seating area of its kind in the East Riding of Yorkshire, had received mixed reviews from some of the first people to see the temporary wooden platform.

However, with planters now in place around the disabled-friendly fixed seating, shoppers and visitors to Driffield who spoke to the Wolds Weekly were largely in favour of the 18-month trial that has been delivered by a collaboration between East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Driffield Town Council.

The initial proposal for the parklet was a smaller structure taking up one car parking space, which was to be installed earlier in the year.

Ken and Pam Hollingsworth

Delays in the supply chain and delivery meant the seated area could only be installed this month and is now the length of three car parking spaces following feedback from residents conducted by East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

After a request from the Wolds Weekly, the council confirmed that the parklet’s total cost was £42,775.

This was funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, part of the government’s Levelling Up agenda to boost ‘pride in place’.

The fund predominantly provides funding to deliver short-term non-capital improvements.

The parklet was supplied is Vestre Ltd and includes a buy-back option over a 15-year period.

The structure has a lifetime anti-rust, 15-year warranty for paint and wood and spare parts available.
With the parklet proving to be one of biggest talking points among the people of Driffield and the Wolds in recent times, Wolds Weekly reporter James Richardson and photographer Mike Hopps spent a morning there to gauge the thoughts of passers-by.

Caroline Smith said: “It looks nice and hopefully it helps to bring people to a quieter end of the town.

“I’ll definitely try and use it when the weather’s better. It’s just a shame it didn’t arrive during summer, especially when the weather was so good.”

Taking advantage of the seating area on a mild October morning were Ken and Pam Hollingsworth, who were enjoying a drink from nearby coffee shop Kinship.

The couple gave a resounding thumbs-up to the parklet.

“I think it’s great,” said Ken. “The only additions that would help would be a draught stopper or a canopy.

“Although it would have been better had it been in place from April, it makes a good place to stop for a drink.

“Tom (Watson, owner of Kinship) has even served it for us in a proper cup and brought it to our table.

“The seats are nice and sturdy, as well as being comfortable and you can tell that it’s a structure that has been made properly.

“It will bring people down to a different end of the town and I think it’s better than the umbrellas.

“People will be better talking to each other sat on here than clogging up the footpaths.

“And for those who say it takes up parking spaces – tough luck. You’re never going to please everyone.”

One St John’s Road resident said the parklet is another display of the proactive nature of Driffield Town Council.

“It’s not a bad idea at all,” he said. “It’s raised a few eyebrows certainly, but I can’t imagine the cost is too much to the taxpayer.

“The town is doing things relevant and that can only be applauded as so many go downhill.”

A similar parklet in Louth, north Lincolnshire, has proved unpopular with residents and was recently the subject of vandalism.

But one Driffield resident who only moved to the town two years ago believes the parklet will propel the Capital of the Wolds to a new era.

“It’s brilliant and a fantastic idea,” said the resident, who wished to remain anonymous. “I’m fairly new to Driffield and it’s a town that needs bringing into the modern world.

“I find it quite dated but this is something different. With COVID still around, lots of people still like sitting outside and this is an ideal place.

“Also, I’d ask the question as to whether the plants have been put in place as an offset for the emissions from the cars.”

Not everyone was wholly in favour of the parklet’s location though and called for further changes to Driffield’s high street to bring it in line with other East Yorkshire towns.

“It looks okay,” said Stephanie Leason, from Driffield. “I think it’s too small though and I wouldn’t particularly want to sit there with a sandwich and a drink with the fumes coming from passing cars.

“It would be much better if Driffield was pedestrianised like Beverley. We keep asking for it but nothing seems to happen.”

Dereck Thomson

It wasn’t just people from Driffield who were willing to offer their opinion, the Wolds Weekly also spoke to several visitors to the town, who were impressed with what they saw.

“It’s very attractive and must be an improvement on car parking spaces,” said Tony Moran, from Bridlington.

“It looks like the furniture is well made and will withstand any kind of weather. The plants are also a nice addition.

“If there was one in Bridlington, I would use it and perhaps I’ll take a seat on this one during my weekly visits to Driffield.”

Another with a drink in hand was Driffield resident Dereck Thomson. He believes it can only be a positive addition to the ‘Station Quarter’ of the town.

“I like it and it brings people down to this end of Driffield,” said Dereck. “Everyone should give it a chance and see how it goes.

“There aren’t many other places it could have been placed and it can only be good for the footfall of the shops and cafes.”

Beverley resident Trev Kirkby said: “It’s great, especially as someone who has a dog and can’t always take it inside cafes.

“We come to Driffield from Beverley on a regular basis and would definitely use it.

“I also think it would go down well in Beverley and other areas of the county like Harrogate.”

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