Home > How? > Playing Out in Four Simple Steps


There’s no getting away from the fact that if you want to open your street for play, either once or regularly, you will have to put some time and energy into making it happen.

We’ve tried to make the task less daunting by breaking it down into ‘4 simple steps’, explained in more detail in this series of short videos and in our Playing Out Manual for organisers. If you have questions or would like to talk at any stage of the process do give us a call on 0117 953 7167 and we’ll do our best to help.

Step One

Talk to your neighbours

This is an important first step and will help you gather views and understand any concerns. We advise chatting in the street, door-knocking, leafleting and holding an informal meeting to explain the idea (you could use our template meeting invitation). The important thing is to make sure everyone feels included and consulted from the beginning.


Step Two

Get permission and support

Once you’re sure there’s enough interest, you’ll need to apply to the council for permission to close the road and make sure you have enough people willing to steward. Recruiting people is also a good chance to get to know your neighbours better – you can use our sign up sheet.

Find the contact for your council from our directory (if you are in Bristol, the council page is here). You will need to  formally consult everyone affected (in Bristol you need to use this letter) and maybe add a more friendly cover letter.

Step Three

Tell everyone and get ready

Once you have permission, you’ll need to publicise the times and dates of your sessions to everyone on the street. Use our template posters and flyers or make your own. Try to make everyone feel included, be clear about the rules around car access and ensure parents understand they are responsible for their own children.

It’s a good idea to think through any potential issues beforehand by doing a simple risk assessment. You also need to have the correct ‘road closed’ signs and barriers. If you are in Bristol, we can lend you some. Elsewhere, your council may provide them or you can buy a kit box from us.

Step Four

Make the street safe and play out!

On the day, arrange to meet and brief your stewards at least 15 minutes before the road is due to close so that they understand their role. Do make sure that the stewards know the clear procedures for re-opening the street at the end of the session and know how to give a signal to children and adults before the street is opened up to traffic again. The Playing Out Manual has guidance on how to do this safely. As long as the road is closed and stewarded safely you can let the children play freely and adults chat and get to know each other. Enjoy it and do stay in touch to let us know how you’ve got on!

These films were made for Playing Out by Paul Gilbert and Lucy Swingler  as part of the Department of Health funded National Street Play Project.  Many thanks to everyone who shared their stories and expertise and made them possible.