Why play streets?

Play streets are not just for children. Play, like food and music, is a shared universal language, with the power to bring people together in all their wonderful diversity. In fact there are so many great reasons to start a play street that we barely know where to begin! But below are three, just for starters.

1. Play streets build neighbourhood bonds

On a typical street in London there is often no typical resident. You can find people of all ages, cultures, ethnicities, faiths, abilities, backgrounds and interests. But lives are busy. How often do you have the chance to find out who you are living next to? The street is a public, neutral shared space and play (perhaps with a pot of tea and a couple of chairs on the side) offers a simple excuse for children and adults to step outside their front doors and meet one another. And research says they feel happier, less lonely and safer because of it. Result.

Hounslow play streets for community cohesion
Tackling loneliness with resident-led play streets

2. Play streets mean healthier, more active, happier children

Play is crucial to children’s happy, healthy development and their right to play is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In the semi-supervised space of their street, they can run, scoot or cycle around in safety, get to know their neighbours, make up games and negotiate rules with new friends – all within sight of their front door. And, unlike at the park, the toilet, a drink, a change of clothes or a sticking plaster are always within easy reach.

Evaluation of London Play Streets project
Why temporary street closures make sense for public health

3. Play streets foster children’s independence

Children’s freedom to roam, their right to be recognised as an autonomous and independent members of their communities and even to explore their own street, has become increasingly eroded over recent generations.

Play streets give them some of this independence back – allowing them to develop confidence and providing a starting point for future adventures. On many streets, the lost culture of ‘knocking’ for friends to come out and play returns in between sessions.

How children lost the right to roam (Daily Mail article)
Children's rights and adults' wrongs (Mayer Hillman/Policy Studies Institute)

So now you know, what are you waiting for? You can find everything you need to know on this website, or just get in touch and we will get you started.

London Play Press Releases
More than four square kilometres of temporary play space was created in an instant last month as Londoners came out to play on their car free streets.
Play news
TOWER HAMLETS: Play time has extended onto the street for two schools in Tower Hamlets

Which boroughs are Play Street friendly?