We want to make it as easy as possible for you to get your play street up and running, so if there’s anything that you’re not sure about or doesn’t make sense, just get in touch.
Residents and community organisations in Hackney can apply to run play streets, so long as you street is not a major route or bus route, and a closure would not cause significant disruption to the road network. It’s a good idea to check in with us first before you start consulting. We can advise you and, where necessary, talk to the Council about your street.
There are then four main steps involved in getting your play street off the ground
Steps 1 & 2: Consult with neighbours and sign up supporters
Once you’ve decided that you want to organise a play street in your road, the first step is to speak to the other neighbours to get their views and hopefully build support for the idea.
We advise taking a bit of time with this, doing it face-to-face as much as you can, and ensure people get the chance to consider the idea and ask questions. This approach also helps to build enthusiasm on the street and to encourage greater numbers of people to get actively involved. In our experience it also minimises the number of objections.
Ideas on how to consult:
- Start by sounding people out informally and try to recruit anyone who’s enthusiastic to help – it’s much more fun doing it as a team. If you’re feeling bold, start simply chatting to people you see in the street about the idea
- Hand deliver a letter to the street about the idea, door knocking and introducing yourself as you go.
- The letter could also invite neighbours to a meeting to discuss the idea (e.g. at your house, pavement play session, community hall, or local café).
- Gather signatures in support as you consult on the Play Streets Application petition – you will need to provide evidence of support to the Council with your application form.
- Gather contact details of neighbours as you go, including email addresses. Many organisers have set up a Facebook group or Google group for the street as part of the process, which make communication much easier.
- Sign up helpers as you go. You’ll need volunteers to steward at sessions, put up posters or post further letters to neighbours, or to act as co-organisers.
- Ask neighbours about preferred timing for the session. Some organisers suggest a couple of options and do a tally as they gather signatures. The most popular time for play streets in Hackney is Saturday or Sunday afternoons, but you can do it any time, up to once per week.
- Consider the best location for the closure. In very long streets you won’t want to shut the whole street; 30 – 50 metres is a good manageable distance.
- Not everyone will like the idea. It is important to understand and be respectful of other people’s views – see more under Objections below.
- A typical application might have around 20-30 signatures, depending on the length of the road.
- Submit your application
Once you’ve consulted with neighbours and have built a fair bit of support on the petition, the next step is to formalise this, complete the application form and submit it to the Council.
You will need to:
- Include the regular timing and location of the play street (indicated by door numbers). Don’t list actual dates as this won’t be relevant in future years. For example you might choose: 1st Sunday of each month 2-4pm and state that the closure will happen from No. 1 to No. 40 in the street.
- Notify neighbours formally about the Play Street application by downloading the application pack and using the template notice (page 5) within it. Hackney Council requires that you send this formal notice out, but you can always add a more personal note too.
- Then submit the application form with the petition to the Council (keep a copy of both). Contact us if you need help with completing the form.
- The Council usually has four deadlines per year for processing new applications, so check on its website to see when the next one is.
- Expect to wait up to 8-10 weeks after the processing deadline for a decision on your play street. Legally the Council must advertise your application twice in local media, and carry out other checks.
- The good news is once you get permission for your play street, the play street order will run on indefinitely each year. The Council may ask you provide evidence of support for it every couple of years.
- If you want to change the dates or timings of your play street at some stage in the future, you will need to reapply so it’s best to be sure about your timings.
Your application may generate one or two objections, but don’t let this put you off. It’s hard to please everyone! Residents who are not in favour usually write to the council rather than responding to organisers direct. If neighbours do object, treat them with respect and be open to discussion. For example, in some streets neighbours have agreed a ‘soft ball only’ rule in response to concerns about potential damage to property. We can help you respond to objections and signpost you to useful resources. The Playing Out manual has a great section on this with a Q&A to help you deal with common concerns.