What are play streets?
Residents can close off their streets to through traffic for a few hours weekly or monthly, so that children can play out more safely and neighbours come together – making streets friendlier for all. In addition, schools, children’s centres and other community organisations can run play streets.
Play streets are also known as ‘playing out’ sessions after the national organisation Playing Out, which first introduced the idea and supports residents across the UK to activate street play.
How do I start?
First consult with neighbours about the idea and sign supporters up on the Council template petition. Once you’ve built enthusiasm and support, you can apply formally to the council using the play streets application form and petition. Hackney Play Streets – a project by Hackney Play Association and funded by Hackney Council – provides free hands-on support and advice to help get you up and running. Find more information on how to consult and apply here.
How do the closures work?
Neighbours volunteer to ‘steward’ road closures. The Council provides ‘Road Closed’ signs, which you can affix to wheelie bins, and traffic cones which you can place across the road. People living in the street are still allowed to drive in and out at 5mph, guided by the stewards. Through traffic is redirected. Parents are responsible for their children. Once the road is closed neighbours come out and chat whilst the children play on the street and pavements – often bringing out toys like balls, chalk or scooters, or sometimes pots and pans! The key thing is they choose what they do with nothing usually organised by the adults – and it seems to work just fine that way. More information on stewarding here.