David Simmons, Adur Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said of play streets:
“This gives us a golden opportunity to bring our community together and encourage safer play areas for our children. The benefits of a more joined up and supportive community cannot be overstated.”
Resident-led play streets are a good news story
They are a very simple, low-cost way to:
Play streets for covid-recovery
Play streets create extra hyper-local public space and could be a powerful and safe way for communities to connect and heal from the challenges and isolation of covid restrictions. You can:
Most of the work is done by residents, with support from Playing Out and local organisations. The council simply needs to make it easy for people to get on with it.
Over 80 local authorities have play street policies around the UK, and a further 80 are developing one. In June 2019 the Department for Transport wrote to the CEOs of all local authorities in England encouraging them to promote play streets saying: “play streets offer wonderful opportunities not merely for children, but for families and communities.” Their letter clarified the legal routes for doing so.
“Everything we do is aimed at improving life for children. In Highways there are few things we can do to improve children’s lives, but this is a massive one. Allowing children to play safely in the street is something I remember doing as a child and it’s great that the next generation are able to have that benefit as well…it’s great to get pats on the backs from our politicians as well because in Highways we’re often beaten with sticks…play streets is working for Leeds and it costs next to nothing.”
Gary Pritchard, Senior Engineer at Leeds City Council
Watch the 22 minute interview with Gary talking about their award winning play street scheme and watch the video below to hear from Southampton Cabinet Member Cllr Leggatt about why Southampton are supporting play streets.
Top Tip! Use resident’s voices
Because street play is resident-led it is useful to have one or two local parents or a community group on board. Their interest and support will help make the case within the council and they can also form a reference group for you to work with as you develop your processes alongside them. One council community worker triggered people’s interest by asking them to share their own memories of playing out in a local Facebook group. This got a whole load of conversations started and people were excited to get involved.
Top Tip! Start small
If you’re struggling to get buy-in for a council-wide process, start with a pilot street and demonstrate the benefits. In Bristol we used the street party application process to try it out and it soon took off.
Delve deeper into the evidence on the wide ranging benefits of play streets.