A 'parklet' trial scheme in Barnes has caused controversy amongst some shop keepers.  

The concept seeks to improve outdoor seating on Church Road by changing parking spaces into curb side seating.  

This involves suspending two parking bays and replacing the bays with a wooden structure on which removable tables and chairs are placed and then removed each night by the local businesses. 

However, some local businesses have spoken out about the scheme, saying that this will “negatively impact” their customers. 

Nina Dimond-Brown, owner of 'Nina' boutique, said the scheme feels “underhand.” 

She said: “The council is appropriating the parking spaces used for social distanced queuing during the pandemic with the excuse that no-one complained.  

“We didn't complain because we understood it was an emergency health situation. This feels underhand. To reduce parking shows a total lack of understanding of how retail works in Barnes and is a kick in the teeth after the 18 months we have just had.” 

An owner of a hairdressers added that parking outside his salon is “essential” for elderly customers. 

He said: “It sounds like this plan will ultimately lead to the loss of three parking spaces which is going to be a real challenge for my customers”. 

However, Emma Robinson, Barnes Town Centre Manager, stressed the scheme was only a trial.  

She said: “I have been looking for ways to support businesses in Barnes and was keen to introduce a parklet as they have been installed with great success across London in the last couple of years and they have been highly acclaimed for the benefits they bring to the area and the income to businesses.  

“They are valuable placemaking tools to enhance shopping parades as destinations for residents and visitors.  

“Most importantly it is a trial and so a temporary measure. I appreciate the concerns of the local shops but hope that they will support me to give it a go and see how it works before dismissing the concept.” 

A Richmond Council spokesperson added:  

“Parklets bring environmental, social and economic benefits to local areas by transforming streets so that they are no longer considered as just a means of travel, but community spaces for everyone to stop, rest and enjoy. In particular, parklets benefit hospitality businesses and neighbouring schemes in Balham and Putney have led to an increase of roughly 30% of trade. 

Richmond Council would like to stress that this is a trial that is being monitored closely. It will go to a statutory consultation if there is a demand to make the parklet permanent.