Leeds City Centre Temporary Park, Leeds, United Kingdom
Leeds City Council

Leeds City Centre's Temporary 'Pop-up Park' is placed in the heart of Leeds City Centre's civic district each summer.
First laid in 2016, the scheme sees a city centre street closed to traffic and 900 square metres of artificial grass, benches, deckchairs and a street trader, placed on the street.
The scheme is primarily nominated because of the ease of transferability to other towns and cities. The pop-up park only costed £20,000 for its first instalment, and as the Council now owns the grass, each revisit only costs less than £10k per summer. This represents excellent value for what is a very impactful and high footfall greenspace. 
In a key location on Cookridge Street, adjacent to some of the city’s main visitor attractions – Leeds Art Gallery, Henry Moore Institute and ‘The Light’ retail centre, the site of the park benefits from an excellent architectural and cultural setting. 
The decision to close the street to traffic for seven weeks each summer is a bold statement in Leeds’ ambitions to me more pedestrian friendly. As well as the temporary closure of a city centre street to traffic, several car parking spaces (and the associated income) are lost, but the scheme is very well received by visitors, neighbouring businesses and the media.
Each lunchtime, as long as the Northern English weather allows, the park’s benches and deckchairs are usually full to capacity.
Of the park users surveyed, all respondents liked the park and 100% also agreed that they’d like to see more temporary spaces like this in the city centre. In terms of economic benefit, the park also encouraged dwell time, with 80% of respondents staying in the city centre longer as a result of the park.
For families, the results were even more pronounced, with 85% saying they’d stayed in the city longer, and 94% of families saying that they’d be more likely to visit Leeds city centre if there were more spaces like the pop-up park.
Among the positive comments across Social Media and from surveying were:
‘Somewhere different. Nice to have free space’
‘Lovely idea, brilliant. Good break from shopping especially with children’
‘Made time in centre more enjoyable’
‘A really good use of council funds, well used, a worthwhile investment.’
Way Forward
The creation of the park each summer means that people look at the street differently. The transformation from a bland, standard tarmac street with a few car parking spaces, to a popular, summer green space shows what can be done. Leeds City Council is already looking at whether something similar can be developed on a permanent basis on the street, which will result in its full time pedestrianisation.
It is increasingly important that towns and cities provide an experience for visitors and the creation of green, family friendly public realm is a key part of this. The pop-up park in Leeds has demonstrated how a relatively simple and cheap scheme can deliver short-term benefits but also be a catalyst for long term change. 
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