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Marshalls Pop Up Parklet

Are Parklets the solution to the recovery of the hospitality industry?

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Wednesday 24th March, 2021

As the UK begins to emerge from a year of uncertainty, businesses in the hospitality industry are busy re-working their plans to open their doors and make up for lost time. Restrictions imposed to save lives have led to losses in the economy, with restaurants, bars and entertainment venues some of the worst hit. But, amongst the doom and gloom there are some rays of hope; over the past year many businesses and local authorities have employed quick and innovative solutions to help people enjoy a sense of normality but in a safe way. In this article we look at some of the changes to date and discuss whether the Parklet concept has found its new moment.

What’s happened to the hospitality industry so far during the pandemic?

Since the first lockdown in March 2020, we’ve seen many changes to the law. In summer last year, the government announced a relaxation to planning and licensing laws to help the hospitality industry. Councils allowed more outdoor dining to help support the economy and many businesses began serving customers in new pedestrianised areas. As the government announced its 2021 roadmap, it was also announced that the pavement licenses to encourage more al fresco dining would be extended another 12 months, in the hope that more businesses would take advantage.

Under tough circumstances, enterprising hospitality businesses across the country have quickly adapted their business models to benefit from the changes, and we’ve seen an increase in the use of solutions which offer a safe environment for outdoor dining with minimal cost or installation.

How has the hospitality industry adapted so far?

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Tenplo at Leeds Summer Pop Up Park

Last July we published an article about how placemaking is changing due to the pandemic, and a lot has changed since then. Towns and cities across the UK have allowed restaurants and bars to take advantage of closed roads and use the outdoor space to their benefit including high footfall areas of Manchester and Oxford. And further north, Marshalls worked with Leeds City Council to create a pop-up park in the centre, using our modular concrete seating range Tenplo to define areas and offer safe socialising.

Social distancing measures have encouraged the hospitality industry to get creative with their dining seating solutions with unique modular seating, allowing flexibility and ensuring customers to dine safely without being too close to another party.

Do Parklets offer a successful solution for the recovery of the hospitality industry?

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Pop Up Parklet

As more cities transform their streets to support the hospitality industry, we’re seeing an increase in modular designs to allow businesses to easily provide additional seating for customers. With social distancing being the most important factor, one great way of expanding spaces safely are Parklets. Pop up Parklets have been around for over15 years, they were initially developed in San Francisco as temporary solution to bring greenery into the urban areas.

Bringing the concept of the Parklet into present day, this type of temporary design has become a good way to allow for social distancing measures so that bars, restaurants and cafes can extend their venue by utilising their car parking space, if they have one. Making good use of their external space opens up more booking opportunities and helps people to feel safe and relaxed during their visit.

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Tenplo modular blocks

With any project that include these temporary or permanent solutions, there needs to be a consideration for non-deliberate errant vehicle and the potential of a malicious attack. Marshalls Landscape Protection team have been using their expertise with customers to offer advice on Hostile Vehicle Mitigation solutions and provide the right levels of protection for the public without making the risk visible.

When it comes to modular design, there are a number of ranges from Marshalls that can provide a great solution. Tenplo comprises of nine modules, which can be placed together to create a configuration or be used separately. The standalone elements offer design flexibility for business who can use this to their advantage to create safe spaces for their customers.

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Loci bench and seat

Ranges such as the Loci collection, also offer a flexible and stylish design to any curb side restaurant, bar or cafĂ©. The lightweight and freestanding design gives businesses the chance to easily move the seating around, whilst creating new areas for their customers.

Measures to keep pedestrians safe

Increasing pedestrianised space can bring concerns around safety - changes to road layouts and traffic flow need to be clear and easy to understand. There are numerous solutions to ensure the safety of pedestrians including the Zicla® collection which comes in a variety of options for active travel. Manufactured from recycled materials, the Zicla® Zebra Planter is used as a protective barrier to shield cycle lanes, it is surface mounted with 4 anchorage points which allows quick and easy installation, with limited disruptions. The Vectorial System in the Zicla® collection can be used as a platform to support Popup Parklets when they’re used in parking spots roadside. Another temporary solution is the Rhinoguard ® Gatekeeper® which offers protective measures and has been seen to be used at sporting events and Christmas Markets.

Moving beyond the temporary into the permanent

As we strive to move towards the recovery phase of the pandemic, there is a shift in focus from temporary quick fixes to more permanent changes. No one truly knows how the world will operate over the next few years, but by testing Parklets and other measures, authorities and businesses are getting a good understanding of how the future could look.  Widening pavements, increasing use of cycle lanes and creating better walking routes that are well lit, attractive and offer en-route seating, are all ideas that are moving up the agenda for planners and time will tell what changes come. There is also inspiration that can be taken from previous pedestrian schemes across; in another of our articles we share three schemes to inspire post pandemic placemaking


At Marshalls, we have over 130 years of experience in helping people to create better spaces. You can view our wide range of temporary and permanent active travel solutions here.

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