Getting your council on board
More councils are putting street play policies in place. But even without one you can apply to temporarily close your street for play.
In order to enable you to play out regularly, the local authority needs to put a road closure application process in place to allow residents to close their streets.
Check what’s happening already near you.
If your council isn’t already supporting play streets, you can see a list of good example council play street webpages to get an idea of what you’re aiming for.
Some local authority areas are harder to win over than others, but as the evidence mounts on the benefits of street play, and more and more councils are putting street play policies in place, it is getting easier and easier.
We have lots of information for councils on our website to help councils do this, but one of the most important factors is enthusiastic residents asking for it. We’ve included a template letter below, to help with this.
Start with one or two trial streets
In some cases councils will be happier to allow the idea to happen on one or two streets first as a trial. There might be an existing street party application process (google “street party application” and the name of your council), or an existing road closure application form for public events like parades, marathons etc (google “road closure application” and the name of your council). Often there is a fee for this, but you should be able to make the case for them to waive the fee, as what you’re doing is for community benefit and play streets align with the priorities of councils.
- Local councillor – a good starting point. Email or phone them and link to our website – download our template letter for suggested wording to get you started
- Your local Voluntary Service Council – type this into google with the name of your council
- Community leaders and community groups
- Pedestrian/cycle groups
- Public health or community officers in your local council
Key information to share
- To start with, download and edit our template letter, and send it to your councillors.
- There is lots of useful info on our Impact of play streets and why support play streets? pages.
- In 2022, Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Levelling Up) wrote to all UK local authorities, urging them to “remove red tape” for community led road closures.
- In 2019 the Department for Transport wrote to all local authorities endorsing play streets and explaining the legal routes to do so.
- The Local Government Association has guidance for local authorities supporting play streets.
- This film about playing out on one Bristol street went viral on Facebook in November 2017 with 8 million views in one week –it’s a popular idea.
- Tell the council that residents do most of the work themselves, so you can get on with it once the council has put the policy in place.
- Playing Out is here to help them. We provide advice and guidance for local authorities and are happy to talk to them. We have a whole section called Info for Councils and can put them in touch with others who are already doing it – see case studies.
Build support among other residents
- Use your own street as a launch pad for the idea – call a meeting and build support for the idea there.
- Publicise your first session a bit more widely than you would normally to generate interest.
- If your council doesn’t allow you to close the road, either organise a ‘pavement play’ session as a first step.
- Or as described above, organise a session as a street party
Kathryn Kay, Adur and Worthing playing out activator, advises: “Prove to your council that other streets are interested in playing out too. I think if it had just been me in Worthing, they wouldn’t have been so quick to act. I had a handful of people interested prior to the pilot”.
We can help
We are very happy to talk to your council too, and give them information, support and advice on helping residents to play out, so feel free to email us!