Garden furniture, decking, pot plants and trees are also being added in Dudley and Stourbridge town centres, where parking spaces have been fenced off to create wider pavements during the coronavirus crisis.
The work began in the High Street and New Street in Dudley this week after the council secured £285,000 through a European Regional Development Fund scheme to reopen high streets safely.
A total of £120,000 from the grant is to be spent on temporary public realm changes to ensure that ‘reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and safely’.
A green-painted boardwalk, a wooden bench surrounded by a rattan screen, a rack of pot plants and a tree in a planter have sprung up along the High Street, close to the entrance of the Trident Centre in Dudley.
A similar scheme is planned for the High Street in Stourbridge where the pavements in the town centre are notoriously narrow.
That work was also getting under way this week.
It will create more space for people to walk in the town centres, making it easier to follow social distancing guidelines. It is expected the measures will stay in place until at least the summer.
The parking bays were fenced off with barriers and traffic cones in July last year to create extra space for pedestrians to comply with social-distancing requirements. But it was thought the new pedestrian zones could be made to look more appealing through the work.
Councillor Karen Shakespeare, Dudley Council’s cabinet member for public spaces, said: “We spoke to shop owners in Dudley to see what they would like to see, and the finished proposals are a reflection of that,” she said. Stourbridge is a trial scheme, and We will get feedback from traders and residents on what they think of this partial scheme.
“The funding we have received allows us to put something in place which will be much more visually appealing and improve the look of the main streets in two of our town centres.”
A further £104,000 is to go on The remainder of the cash is to go on communications and public information activities to ensure that reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and £61,548 on safely and ‘business-facing awareness raising activities’.
A Dudley Council spokesman said: “The parking spaces are on the road. It will encourage social distancing because it is widening the pavements, thereby allowing more room for people to walk. This is particularly important in Stourbridge town centre, as the pavements are very narrow.
“The pot of funding we received from the European Regional Development Fund was very specific and has been awarded to councils across the UK for the purpose of ‘Reopening High Streets Safely’.
“It was to provide support to local authorities to implement temporary measures following emergency Covid measures that were initially put in place.”