Play on the Street!

Did you see BBC Breakfast this morning? Today (at 6:52, repeated about hourly) Susannah and John Maguire are asking whether our kids play out in the streets, or if you wish they did? Did you?

Illustrating the piece are shots of the ground breaking Bristol’s Playing Out Project, where streets can close regularly after school. Amy and Alice had a front page feature in last week’s Guardian:

Reclaiming the streets for kids

Two Bristol mothers have decided it’s time to banish traffic from their road and replace it with scooters, skateboards, hopscotch and bikes

Alice and Amy, photo from the Guardian

Four year old Isobel is sitting on the kerb with her friend Amelie. The girls eat their ice lollies and chat, dollies and scooters lying in the street beside them. Isabel’s baby brother Hugo is napping nearby in his buggy. A gang of boys comes whizzing down the road in a mass of scooters, skateboards and bikes. They deftly dodge another cluster of children, ranging in age from toddlers to pre-teens, who are busy chalking up hopscotch on the road.

It may sound like a rose–tinted scene from a bygone era, but this is a weekday afternoon in a Bristol city centre street.


The article goes on to describe the brilliantly simple model they use, supported by the Deputy Leader of the council Cllr Jon Rogers, where streets are issued ‘Temporary Play Street Orders’.

You can find out more – and see videos of the project in action – at, or contact Alice through Twitter.

On the BBC piece it was great to hear from the group of Hackney mums who want their street to close more often, having enjoyed the last two street parties. But normally, in London, streets can only close once a year – I look forward to hearing what happens next!

So would this work where you are? Or do you have other ideas about how to ensure children and young people have the freedom to play locally? Do let us know!

4 Responses to “Play on the Street!”
  1. Claire Colvine says:

    As well as the run of the countryside, I was lucky enough to have the run of my street growing up. Me and my two older brothers used to play with the other kids in the row – aged from me at six, to my older brother and the boy at number two at about eleven. We put on the ‘Street Olympics’ for our parents, played ‘Arrows’ around the neighbourhood, and rode our bikes like horses up and down the street. Cars were a feature and some of the older neighbours didn’t like our more boisterous play, but our parents trusted us to be aware of danger and to know when we had pushed things too far.
    As well as giving children today the opportunity to experience the joy of playing out where they live, regularly closing off streets for play sends an important message to planners, policy makers and the public about children’s’ stake in the public realm. Communities are too often built and developed from an adult perspective, and children too often chastised and moved on when they carve out pieces for themselves.
    As well as supporting and promoting all the amazing work happening in Bristol, London and elsewhere to reclaim the streets for play, another way to reinforce the message that children have the right to play is by getting involved in Playday on Wednesday 1 August. You could even have a street party and invite your friends, neighbours and local politicians to join in the fun and show them fist-hand the benefits of children playing out in their communities.
    You can find out more about Playday at

  2. nicola baird says:

    Well there are no legal rights – but in London a lot of streets are closed if they are near a football stadium. It makes sense for pop up play to happen in those streets run by local neighbourhood families???? nicola

    • Cath Prisk says:

      Hi Tim, Nicola, I couldn’t agree more. Over next few days hope to showcase what different people do in different places, but pop up play is so very far from the norm…

  3. Tim Gill says:

    More great coverage for Playing Out – how good is their project?! We need to build a campaign to change the laws in London so the capital’s residents have the same rights as everyone else.

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