Street planters question cost of cutting Town Hall red tape
Application process prices many out, say green-fingered rebels who took over parking bays
31 July, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson
Lynne Friedli and Helena Farstad in Mayton Street
GREEN-FINGERED rebels who won their battle with the Town Hall to keep miniature gardens and planters they placed in parking bays now say the application processes drawn up by the council to legalise street planters prices most people out of the scheme.
As previously reported by the Tribune, neighbours in Mayton Street, Holloway, bypassed council red-tape to take over parts of the road with street planters. With most people praising the green takeover, the council, although unhappy, agreed to let the planters stay and waive a licence fee.
This month, environment chief Councillor Rowena Champion said she would support a scheme to allow people to apply for and pay for similar spots.
But now in a letter sent to Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn and Cllr Champion, residents from Mayton Street have pointed out the cost proposed by the council for a street planter licence makes it unattractive for most residents.
To even apply for a licence involves a non-refundable payment of £102.40, and documents show a carriageway planter such as the one in Mayton Street would cost £1,000 for a five-year period. Cheaper options include footway planters, costing £770 or £900 over five years depending on the size.
More than 850 people signed a petition to keep the planters, but Mayton Street residents Helena Farstad and Lynne Friedli said there was something “far more fundamental” going on than just saving reclaimed pallets and soil.
“We are raising this in public with the view to get this out of the trench we’re presently finding ourselves in – asking how we can find a solution,” they told the Tribune.
“We have suggested a Zoom meeting and have lots of ideas of how to make this truly the best it can be, drawing on local labour, apprenticeship programmes, linking in with the green economy, building community resilience. No one is engaging.”
They explained that the Mayton Street planters were built on a shoestring budget and are taking just one car parking space. They welcomed Islington Council’s application process but added: “However, we wonder whether the process and the requirements as set out in the draft application, could be made more accessible and encourage an uptake that the petition has demonstrated exists.
“We therefore ask the council to work with us, using a reiterative and consultative process, to ensure we remove any barriers for applicants and make the scheme the best it can be.”
Cllr Champion said they would continue to review how the Town Hall can make the process to apply for planters easy and affordable for all.