What are Play Streets?
Hackney Council’s Play Streets policy enables people living in residential streets to apply for weekly or monthly temporary road closures (also known as playing out sessions) so that children can play out in their neighbourhood regularly. Hackney was the first London borough to adopt the idea and Play Streets has been a huge success, providing opportunities for thousands of children to play actively and have fun close to home. It has also given adult residents the chance to get to know each other better and feel a stronger sense of community.
Hackney Play Association, in partnership with Hackney Council, supports residents and schools and other community organisations to get involved in activating street play in their area. Currently there are over 40 streets taking part, including several estates, that have been approved to run regular playing out/ play street sessions.
We are working in close partnership with Playing Out – a not-for-profit organisation which pioneered the idea of temporary road closures for play in Bristol. Playing Out now works nationwide providing resources and materials, guiding people on how to build support in their neighbourhood and creating ways for people to share their ideas and experiences.
How to get started
There are three key stages to applying for a play street:
1. Residents first consult with neighbours in their street about their idea – through door knocking, a letter-drop and sometimes holding a residents meeting. HPA can offer lots of hands-on support through this process (see more info below on the free support available). Hackney Council also asks that residents build a petition of names/addresses to show there is strong support. It is a good idea not to rush the consultation, so that other people living in the street have sufficient time to consider the idea, ask questions and hopefully get involved. Typically organisers take around two months to consult and gather names on the petition, although some have done it more quickly.
2. Once you have consulted and have a petition of names in support of the idea, you can apply to the council using the play streets application form (which also includes a petition template) http://www.hackney.gov.uk/play-streets.htm – .Uks6xM33DAg. You can apply to run weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly sessions for up to three hours per session.
Please note in 2016 the deadlines are 31 January, 30 April, 30 June and 31 October. To download an application form and petition, go to http://www.hackney.gov.uk/play-streets.htm – .Uks6xM33DAg
3. You should expect a council processing time of around 10 weeks – from the council application deadline. It may take longer if the council receives any written objections to the application. You will receive an email confirmation from the council of whether your play street has been approved, and to date no play street application has been turned down.
If your application is approved, you can move forward with planning your first session. The Council will provide lightweight ‘Road Closed’ signs free of charge for you to keep, as well as ‘Road Ahead Closed’ signs if these are needed.
Download our short guide to the process: Info for residents on consultation and application process More free resources are available to download at http://playingout.net/useful-stuff
Stewarding the closures
During play streets sessions the street won’t be closed completely; people living on the street can still drive to and from their homes at 5mph. You will need to recruit friends or neighbours to help on the day; there has to be someone at each end of the street to warn cars and escort them in or out once children have been cleared from the road. Detailed information on stewarding is available in the Playing Out manual, downloadable here.
Hackney Play Association can support you in the following ways:
- Offer one-to-one support and advice in person, by phone and email
- Attend residents meetings
- Assist with consultation
- Help with filling in the Play Streets application form
- Liaise with the Council regarding your application
- Attend your first Playing Out session
- Provide free equipment including high vis tops and whistles
- Signpost you to free resources
If you are a Hackney resident and interested in street play please contact one of our resident support officers:
If you are a teacher/ head teacher, or are from another organisation, please contact the project manager:
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or Mobile 07947 095069
For more information on Hackney Play Streets and to download an application form, go to http://www.hackney.gov.uk/play-streets.htm – .Uks6xM33DAg For downloadable free resources and lots of useful information around reactivating street play visit http://playingout.net/ Join:
Reports show the impact of Play Streets
- A Natural Thing: Supporting outdoor play on housing estates in Hackney, by independent researcher, Tim Gill, October 2018.
- Play Streets Evaluation report, February 2018, or the print-friendly version. There is also an Executive Summary here.