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From Big Lunch to Playing Out

posted this in Community, Play Streets, Street Space on 26/04/2019

Street party

How it started

When his neighbour organised a Big Lunch street party for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, Rob Schafer was struck by how much the children enjoyed having a traffic-free street for the day. He decided that it would be great if they could get to play outside their own front doors more than just once a year.

“Growing up, I was always out on bikes with other kids and being outside was a really important part of my childhood. Now I’ve got three kids of my own I wanted them to experience some of the same freedoms I had.”

“At the first Big Lunch we all realised just how many families lived on the street and really wanted to build on the community spirit that having a Big Lunch gave us.”

Rob heard about Playing Out and, with our support, got permission from Hertfordshire County Council to close the street to through traffic for two hours on one Sunday a month as a trial.

Big impact

Rob’s street has regularly ‘played out’ for nearly five years and are now planning their 7th annual Big Lunch. Rob now helps other streets in Hertfordshire have street parties and playing out schemes through the website He also helped to set up a local Playing Out group under the banner of Sustainable St Albans, who after several years of campaigning have managed to get a council policy in place and are looking to support any interested streets.


If you’d like to start things off on your street with a Big Lunch, this year’s is officially on the 2nd of June (but you can really do it any time). Find out more and download a pack here.

If you live in Hertfordshire and think Playing Out might work on your street then visit and get in touch. You can also email Rob directly at [email protected]

Elsewhere in the UK see

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