Sometimes known as ‘playing out sessions’ or ‘play streets’ — Street Play is a simple, effective and low-cost way for children to be able to play out in the streets where they live. Local authorities can use their existing powers under road traffic legislation to allow temporary street closures at regular weekly or monthly intervals, typically for three hours at a time. Local parents and other residents act as marshals, allowing their neighbours to drive to and from their homes at walking pace, while through traffic is re-directed. The result is usually a significant increase in children playing out and making friends on their street. In turn, adult neighbours get to know each other and community spirit grows.
The Street Play project’s vision is for every child to have the freedom to regularly play actively and independently in front of or near their own front door, contributing to a healthy lifestyle.
Play England worked with Playing Out, London Play and the University of Bristol to directly support communities and local authorities across the country, particularly in disadvantaged areas, to reactivate a culture of children playing out in the streets near where they live and embed this in local policy.
The three-year project:
- Supported parents and communities to kick start resident-led street play through providing guidance and support online.
- Supported residents and communities in up to nine target areas with poor health outcomes to activate street play in their neighbourhoods.
- Worked with locally based voluntary organisations and local authorities to advise them on the policies and processes that can support resident-led street play.
- Campaigned to raise awareness about the benefits of playing out, increase acceptance of children playing near where they live and stimulate demand for street play.
The project has supported parents and communities to hold regular road closures enabling children to play out in 33 geographically diverse areas, with a sustainable network of over 5,000 volunteers creating over 60,000 additional play opportunities.
Since the funded project’s conclusion in March 2016, over 500 streets in 45 different local authority areas are involved in active street play.
Read about the impact of this project in the newly published evaluation reports here.
Many local authorities are already signed up to the Street Play scheme, which will make it even easier for local residents to set them up. Find out here:
(Please note you will need Adobe Reader to view the resources)
- Download general Street Play briefing
- Download Street Play Briefing for Public Health Professionals
- Download Street Play Briefing for Local Authorities
- Download Street Play Briefing for Community Organisations
Play England also supports Hackney Play Streets who help residents across Hackney organise regular street closures. Hackney schools were the first in the UK to run school hosted play streets. Find out more here: