Connecting green spaces
Hackney has one of the largest expanses of green spaces in inner London, with 58 parks and green spaces totalling around 283 hectares. Improving our parks and green spaces is one of our priorities – since 2010 there’s been £25m of investment in them, with a further £8m of investment planned to take place over the next few years.
Because many of our green spaces were designed in Victorian times, however, they can sometimes still resemble private, fenced off gardens reserved for the few, rather than green spaces open to everyone. Rather than being open and welcoming, some spaces have rigid, inaccessible boundaries. Sometimes these barriers separate them from the wider neighbourhood, creating ‘islands’ of disconnected green space.
We’re looking to improve this by connecting green spaces:
- to the wider environment
- to each other
Connecting green spaces to the wider environment
Some of the parks in Hackney are surrounded by railings or walls. Sometimes there’s a good reason for them, but it can mean the parks’ entrances can be hard to find or that it’s easier to walk around the park instead of walking through it.
We’ve found some parks where the railings could be removed or made smaller, or where the entrances could be widened, or new entrances added.
Things like lampposts and telephone boxes can make it difficult to see into parks, and sometimes pedestrians have to walk on narrow pavements next to traffic rather than taking a nicer route through a park.
The relationship between parks and pavements could be improved – some walking routes could be redirected through parks.
Connecting green spaces together
A number of parks in Hackney have roads running through them. This makes them smaller, makes it difficult for people to move between the different parts, and makes the parks noisier, with more traffic and pollution.
Most of these spaces tend to be in quieter neighbourhoods, so it might be possible to close these roads and return them to green space once again.
Connecting green spaces to each other
Hackney’s parks are generally surrounded by roads, and moving between them usually involves negotiating heavy traffic, so it’s rare for children to be allowed to travel to the park on their own. At park exits it’s rare to see signs pointing to other local amenities, let alone other green spaces.
We’re looking at ways of improving the green links between parks. We want to encourage people to walk and cycle between our green spaces. This will be done by making our streets more liveable, replacing car parking spaces with bike hangars and parklets. We have committed to planting 1,000 new trees in our streets by 2022, and adopting the healthy streets approach to streets across the borough.
The entrances to Daubeney Fields aren’t as welcoming as they could be. There’s a lot of clutter and it could be easier to see into the park. We’re working on new designs for the park to make the entrances more open and accessible for local people.
East and West Bank Nature Reserve
West Bank Nature Reserve in Stamford Hill lies next to the route of Cycle Superhighway 1. Until recently, the nature reserve was hidden by a long line of parked cars, and suffered from regular fly tipping. In 2019 we suspended parking and created a new cycle route next to the nature reserve.
People often don’t realise that Fairchild’s Garden is open to the public – it’s surrounded by a large wall and fence, and a narrow gate. We’re working to open the space up, creating a new wider entrance.
We’re consulting on improvements to Shoreditch Park, and asking local people how we can connect the park to the public space outside in a better way.
In 2018, we partnered with Friends of the Earth to launch ’10 x Greener’ in Daubeney Road. This project worked with the community to distribute window boxes and pot plants, create new street planting beds and replace tarmac street corners with wild patches of planting. The project created a greener walking and cycling routes between Daubeney Fields and Hackney Marshes. Find out more.
Woodberry Wetlands in Woodberry Down has shown how reservoirs can be opened up to the community. It’s publicly accessible and provides a green, biodiverse space for local people and wildlife to use instead of the nearby roads. We’re exploring ways of opening up West Reservoir in a similar way, and improving the connection between it and Woodberry Wetlands.
Wetlands to Wetlands route
In 2016, we created a new quiet walk and cycle route linking nature reserves in Hackney and Walthamstow. The ‘Wetlands to Wetlands’ route links Woodberry Wetlands and Walthamstow Wetlands with a safe, green 3km ‘corridor’ that passes through parks and quiet roads. Roadspace was given over to green space, new trees were planted, and safety improvements were made to streets.