Following a challenging 2020 due to COVID-19, AlburyCity was approached by local property owners to investigate a proposal for parklets along Dean Street. The objective was to activate the city's main street and support social and economic recovery by creating a pedestrian-friendly place to stop, sit and rest while taking in the activities of the street.
AlburyCity engaged Albury Business Connect to undertake a comprehensive consultation process to determine business and property owner support for the concept of a parklets trial. 465 Dean Street was chosen as the optimal trial location thanks to the support of businesses in the immediate vicinity, HAPI and Zen X.
After securing a $120,000 grant through the NSW Government’s Streets as Shared Spaces Program, the architecturally designed and locally constructed Pods of Play opened to the public in July 2022.
During the trial period, AlburyCity organised a number of events to activate the space, ranging from craft workshops and storytelling to chess and chamber music.
In this time, more than 24,000 people visited the parklet, with visitors invited to scan a QR code to give their feedback on the concept. The majority of respondents welcomed the addition of the parklet to Dean Street, with the key themes being that it enhances the street’s appeal, creates a welcoming and vibrant natural environment and increases social connection.
HAPI and Zen X are also supportive of the parklet installation, and have expressed a positive outlook surrounding community participation, which is a strong indicator of the value it has provided to their business activities.
Although the lack of parking was disappointing for some, regular parking surveys undertaken by AlburyCity indicate that there is ample parking in the CBD, with on-street parking rates having an average occupancy rate of 52%, and off-street parking sitting at 51%.
Taking into account business and community feedback, AlburyCity has extended the duration of the existing parklet installation until the completion of the CBD Master Plan to inform the preferred locations for future potential placemaking locations.
AlburyCity Mayor Kylie King said the positive feedback shows that the majority of people are embracing the parklet, and its current location is working well.
"The parklet provides a comfortable and attractive stop off point in a prime location in our CBD, encouraging people to stroll the main street and stop for a rest, a chat, a coffee or a bite to eat," said Mayor King.
Although other suitable locations for parklets have not yet been identified, AlburyCity will continue to explore future opportunities and consult with the community.