It’s time to blockade for play!

You have just 5 days to contribute to our first print run of community funded Love Outdoor Play stickers. While the stickers will hopefully create visible support for more outdoor and unstructured play in our communities clearly there is much more that can be done.

I personally live in a terraced house that was built just over 100 years ago. We live on a no through road (which is great), but parking on the sides of the road and drivers reversing quickly make it less than ideal for younger kids. The two streets we are connected to are used as rat run and so it’s hard for children to be allowed out on those roads too. From the main road there are just two entrances/exits to our three streets and frankly I think it’s time for a blockade!

Design your own street. A mission from the next book in the Mission:Explore series.. "Mission:Explore Travel"

Earlier in the week Hattie Copard from Snug and Outdoor and I had a conversation about this idea. Hattie lives Haringey in north London while I am in Ealing in the west. Over the next few weeks we are going to be working to our respective communities to see if we can create regular times in which local children can play outdoors on the roads, paths and alleys.

Yesterday I wrote, printed and posted the following letter to the 100+ families that would be directly effected.

Dear Residents of xxxx Gardens, xxxxx Road and xxxx Road,

Safe Local Street Play

I live with my wife and 7-year-old son on xxxx Road and am writing with a proposal that I hope is met with some enthusiasm.

I have recently been doing a range of work on the importance outdoor play for children. As you may be aware there has been a slow erosion of how much time and space children have to play in. There is much evidence to show that this can have a negative impact on the physical and mental health of children, reduce opportunities for learning and negatively impact on local communities.

While we are lucky enough to be surrounded by many large parks, many of our children are currently too young to make the short journey down to the end of xxxx Road to cross the Zebra Crossing and then back again to the park on their own or in small groups.

In the short term the greatest risk to local children’s safety is the movement of cars. In order to give local children greater opportunity to meet and play I would like to propose that we close xxxx  Gardens, xxxx Road and xxxx Road on occasion. This would happen at a set time and for a limited period (an hour maybe). This may not only benefit children, but would also help to foster a greater sense of local community.

I realise that this suggestion will come with a mixed reaction and that those of you who use your cars and receive deliveries on a regular basis will have specific needs.

I would like to call a meeting for anyone who is interested in this idea to discuss it further. This meeting will be an opportunity to show your support for the proposal or to make your objections. What I hope is that we can find a workable compromise.

The meeting will be held in the xxxx at 8pm on the 6th of October. They need to know numbers so please RSVP by calling or emailing me. If you have an opinion either way and cannot make the meeting please do contact me with your opinions so that they can be included in the discussion.

Thank you very much for your time. With 730 hours in a month and 168 hours in a week, I do hope that we can fine 1 or perhaps 2 for our children to claim the streets.


I have already had 3 families respond enthusiastically. Another resident has replied with some good questions and does like the idea of the road being calmed. He is interested in issues around who manages the effort, permissions, emergency service access, insurance, Criminal Record Checks, human rights of those who depend on cars, why parents cannot just go to the local park and why gardens are not enough. All interesting points which will be discussed at our first meeting.

I’ll keep you updated on how it goes. If you have experience of getting your road closed for play (on a regular basis) please do share your experiences here.

3 Responses to “It’s time to blockade for play!”
  1. Amy Rose says:

    This is great. We have run a series of road closures in Bristol and have now put up some resources to assist neighbours to close their streets for safe street play. Please do use what is helpful to you and let us know how you get on.

    best wishes, Amy

  2. Tregony says:

    I live in a gated block by London Fields which means, brilliantly, that all the kids in the block go in the car park to chalk, bike ride, have water fights and kick a ball about. It wasn’t like this right from the start. The block was only built 7 yrs ago and at first residents conplained, but i’m secretary of residents committee & through that worked on couple of the main objectors with promises from parents that they’d be responsible for sorting out any breakages, and promises from kids to not paint on cars or intentionally smash anything they didn’t clear up we had a play welcome zone. Which makes me think I must get one of London Play’s signs!

  3. nicola baird says:

    I was thinking how our kids (in north london) get a day a year at the street party – and then I remembered living near a football ground is a serious gift. At least once a fortnight several roads around Arsenal are closed off with barriers as a way to make sure police have access to the ground. If I investigated this more, and obviously talked to my neighbours about this these streets would be ideal for some outside play. Actually what attracted me to the area was seeing one family with teenagers regularly reclaim the street to play hockey on rollerblades and some brothers (probably year 7s, ie 11/12, until they were too cool in year 10) kicking a football to each other. How the drivers hated it! Good luck with your plan. I need to apply myself a bit more – thanks for the inspiration.

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