Council u-turn on play street charges

London Play calls for a ‘summer of play’

No play punishment must stop


This weekend, dozens of residential streets in London will become temporary play areas.

Londonist 21 September 2023

World Car Free Day 2023 is celebrated on 22 September across the world, but here in London we’re making a long weekend of it. Across the capital, many streets will be closed off to traffic, allowing communities to get together on the tarmac. Space hoppers are optional.

The event is organised by London Play with help from Transport for London. The hundred or so streets taking part are all doing so voluntarily with the full buy-in of residents. It’s a chance to see how our streets can be used when the motor car is banished.

Got to Londonist to read more.


Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.

London Play has supported a successful resident-led campaign to overturn a decision by Croydon Council to introduce charges for children playing in the street.

Resident Sue Ahmad was “shocked and angered” when she was told that there would be a charge of £234 to renew the licence for a play street that has been running in Thornton Heath since 2018. Her street, Livingstone Road is closed to through traffic for three hours on every second Sunday of the month Between March and October,

“The decision to introduce this charge seems very short-sighted, particularly now; when communities have suffered through more than a year of isolation and separation.”

The council confirmed on June 4 that a £234 charge would be levied to pay the costs of advertising the road closure, despite it not being a legal requirement.

In a letter to Cabinet Member for Sustainable Croydon Cllr Muhammad Ali, London Play deputy director Fiona Sutherland wrote: “The decision to introduce this charge seems very short-sighted, particularly now; when communities have suffered through more than a year of isolation and separation, accompanied by a marked decline in the mental and physical health of both children and adults.  Play streets are a cheap and easy resident-led initiative which mitigate exactly these negative impacts. Now more than ever, they should be encouraged.”

A petition challenging the council organised by play street organiser Siobhain O’Hanlon attracted 600 signatures and then yesterday Cllr Ali confirmed on Twitter that Croydon Council “has always supported play street events and will continue to support anyone who wants to organise a play street without any charges.” Officers at the council confirmed there would be no charge and that the earlier notices had been sent ‘in error’. 

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London Play Press Releases
24 MAY 2020: London Play is one of  many organisations behind a campaign to ensure that every child has the space, time, and freedom to play this summer as Covid-19 restrictions are eased


Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.

London Play will be bringing joy back to the city streets this summer as part of the Mayor’s ‘Let’s Do London’ campaign, to encourage Londoners and visitors back into the capital.

Mayor of London press release

Sadiq Khan formally signed in for a second term as Mayor of London on Monday 10 May, on stage at the iconic Shakespeare’s Globe, as he announced plans for the biggest domestic tourism campaign the capital has ever seen to help London’s economy get back on its feet as COVID restrictions are eased.

An immediate priority for the Mayor will be his new ‘Let’s Do London’ campaign, launching today, which is being created in partnership with the city’s hospitality, culture, and retail industries. The flagship campaign to encourage Londoners and visitors back into central London will include a programme of one-off special events created in partnership with London’s best-known cultural institutions and tourism attractions. It will kick off later this month

Kicking off in spring with  the capital’s famous chefs, foodies and hospitality venues coming together to promote and celebrate London’s world-class food offer, the summer will offer families and children a plethora of free, joyful opportunities.

London Play, the capital’s leading charity for children’s play, will be opening up central London for families and transforming streets with play.

Other summer attractions will include the London Festival of Hope which “will bring a true celebration of life with an art and photography contest, competitions for all the family including an amateur ‘bake-off’, community activations, giant inflatables taking over London’s skyline and a series of outdoor live music concerts that will reimagine the performance space.” The Southbank Centre will welcome audiences back with their Summer Reunion programme – 15 consecutive weekends of free outdoor activity from and the Tate Modern will also be offering large scale free activities during the summer.

Click here for full details in the press release on the Mayor of London website.


Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.

London Play has joined academics and other play campaigners in calling on the government to support ‘a summer of play’ to help children recover from the stress of lockdown and a year of Covid upheaval.

Instead of extra lessons, catch-up summer schools and longer school days, we believe that children should be encouraged to spend the coming months outdoors, being physically active and having fun with their friends.

As the Guardian reported:

Psychologists have reported behavioural changes in some children following the first lockdown last year. After months of isolation from friends, some struggled to share and play together, teachers reported more fights and fallings-out, and Ofsted observed a worrying drop in physical fitness.

As the government draws up its latest education catch-up plans, to be unveiled in the coming weeks, a group of academics calling themselves PlayFirstUK have written to the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, appealing for a new emphasis on play, mental health and wellbeing as children emerge from lockdown.

“This spring and summer should not be filled with extra lessons,” the letter says. “Children, teachers and parents need time and space to recover from the stress that the past year has placed on them.

As part of a wider recovery process, children should be encouraged and supported to spend time outdoors, playing with other children and being physically active. Where it is needed, evidence-based mental health support must be made available.”

It continues: “This is not an either-or decision. Social connection and play offer myriad learning opportunities and are positively associated with children’s academic attainment and literacy.”

The group cautioned that intensive “catch-up” plans, intended to help pupils make up lost ground as a result of the pandemic, could end up worsening children’s mental health and wellbeing, and have a negative effect on learning in the long term.

Read more here

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LONDON: As many as half a dozen housing developments across London – most of them relatively new – separate play areas for richer and poorer children.


Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.

Withdrawing play time from school children as punishment is an infringement of children’s human rights and is a practice which should be stopped, says the British Psychological Society.

Schools should never use the threat of taking away break or lunch time from schoolchildren as a punishment, or when they are forced to catch up on unfinished work, says a new position paper from the DECP.

The BCP’s Division of Educational and Child Psychology says in the position paper that unstructured play, led by children themselves, is critical to encouraging wellbeing and development.

Dr Gavin Morgan, Chair of the DECP, said:

“The benefits of play for children, including older children, have been well documented by educational psychologists, and it is crucial that this part of their development isn’t taken away as a punishment for misbehaviour or to complete unfinished work.

Play improves physical and emotional wellbeing, and creates stronger relationships between peers, within families and across wider communities.

The DECP strongly advocates for children’s fundamental right to play, both during their school day and in their lives. We encourage all educational psychologists to use the influence they have to challenge practices which restrict or reduce access to play, and advocate initiatives which promote it.”

A recent study of schools across England found an average reduction in break times of 45 minutes for those aged 5-7 and 65 minutes for those aged 11-16 since 1995, and 60 per cent of schools which responded to the survey reported that children might be forced to miss an entire break or lunch period due to misbehaviour or to catch up with work.

Other factors including the closure of play facilities, increasing use of technology and social media, and worries about safety are limiting children’s access to play.

The DECP calls for all children and young people to have access to free, high quality opportunities for play in their local area, particularly for groups who may experience exclusion from play such as disabled children, those from minority communities and those living in poverty.

For a link to the position paper click here

More on this story here

Which boroughs are Play Street friendly?

Review our new Play Street London map and click on your borough to see the latest information about play streets. We will update this information on a continuous basis to help you organise a play street in your borough.