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Boys & girls come out to play

on Thursday, 15 August 2013. Posted in N21 Community



Two years after this article was first written, Winchmore Hill has it's first play street. Orpington Road was closed for play for the first time on Saturday July 18th, for three hours between 2pm and 5pm.


The verdict?

"Loads of families with children and lots of grandparents with their grandchildren were out spending time together and as a community. We met loads of people we had never spoken to before and the children just loved running around and playing games in the street. There was lots of traditional games as well as just scooting up and down the road and even some Dad races at the end! It was a real 'street' event with everyone helping out and tidying up. Well over 90% of residents were able to move their cars which we were delighted about and very thankful that people have been so supportive".




It wasn't just the kids who had all the fun.  


There will be four more play street days in Orpington Road over the next twelve months. 

Shouldn't play streets be commonplace?






Devonshire Road in Palmers Green has become the borough's first Play Street. The street is now closed to traffic one Sunday a month, from 2pm - 5p, to allow children to play out on the street..



Drivers tend to use Devonshire Road as a rat run to avoid the traffic lights on the high street, but on the afternoon of Sunday 1st June 2014 , barriers will be placed at both ends and supervised by volunteer stewards. Only residents' cars will be allowed in and out at walking pace – and children will have the freedom play in the road as they choose.


This is a new scheme for Enfield – Devonshire Road is the borough's first 'play street'. The idea comes from Playing Out, an organisation started by two mothers in Bristol who wanted their children to play outdoors with the same freedom they had enjoyed growing up. As more streets take up the idea, local authorities across the country are offering road traffic orders like the 'Temporary Play Street Order' that Devonshire Road has successfully applied for.

'We had a one-off trial a couple of years ago,' says Devonshire Road resident Clare, a mother of two. 'The children were so excited to have the freedom of the whole road to play in. One mum told me she was amazed that her son spent three hours running around outdoors instead of playing on his X-Box. We're looking forward to doing this once a month.'


Richard, father of two and a town planner, is also looking forward to reclaiming the street. 'Streets should be much more than just conduits for cars and parking. When we use it as a social space to play and meet our neighbours it changes the dynamic on the street completely.'


Neighbours will use the first play event to discuss ways to calm traffic on the street permanently.


For more information on play streets, see, or contact Devonshire Road organisers via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Here are the dates agreed so far


6 July 2014, 3 August 2014, 14 September 2014, 5 October 2014, 2 November 2014, 7 December 2014, 11 January 2015, 1 February 2015, 1 March 2015 12 April 2015, 10 May 2015


Read more about the project on the Devonshire Road Facebook page here





In the middle of August comes the timely announcement that councils across London are planning temporary road closures to allow children to play outside their homes in a safe environment. This follows on from lobbying by a number of pressure groups and an interesting experiment in Bristol where a group of mums persuaded the Council to close a street for three hours a week. It proved so popular that Bristol's third Play Street has recently been added. You can read about the Bristol project by clicking on the image.



These are the ladies who have got it started.




 London Play has broadly the same objectives, and this group will be releasing details of a study entitled Explore. Play. Connect - in the City in October



Play England have just released the results of a new study into children playing outdoors which found that whilst 50% of the parents interviewed reported playing out at least seven times a week when they were growing up, less than a quarter of children (23%) to do today. Yet, 40% of the 3,000 children who took part in the survey said they would love to spend more time playing outside.




So what's stopping them?

Concerns about traffic and 'stranger danger' were high on parents' reasons for not encouraging their children to play outside. However 28% of parents cited intolerant neighbours as a major barrier stopping children playing out where they live and a concern that children playing out in the street would upset the neighbours.


In addition, a lack of dedicated community space was also cited as hampering children's opportunities to play, with almost a third of adults (32%) and a fifth of children (20%) saying that more spaces to play within their local community would get more children playing out.


Play England argue that "play has the power to bring communities together" If ways can be found to enable children to play out on the streets, it gets them into the fresh air, away from the telly and 'digital play', children make new friends, get to know children who are both older and younger and it helps families to get to know each other; which can only be good for fostering stronger community ties.

Cath Prisk, Director of Play England writes "It's up to all of us to turn around the creeping disappearance of children from our streets, parks and communities. We all have role - as families, neighbours, and friends. We can all do something to say we love kids playing outdoors, that we want to live in communities that actively welcome kids playing out. There always was and always will be some people who want to squash kid's fun - but there are far more that really want kids back outside playing, not stuck indoors, especially over the summer holidays! Play is fundamental to our children's enjoyment oheir childhood; it can't be taken for granted. All of us, from parents to planners, from neighbours to policy makers have our part to play in allowing and supporting children's play as it is vital for our children's health, learning, development and happiness.'

So what is Enfield's Policy? 


Nothing has been announced yet but the person responsible for road closures across the borough is Elliott Parkin 020 8379 2126.


Devonshire Road in Palmers Green is already kickstarting a local campaign. Here are some of the pictures from the Devonshire Road Facebook page.




So what are you waiting for? have produced a useful manual which you can download by clicking on the image.




Lets get the boys and girls out to play!





In the middle of August comes the timely announcement that councils across London are planning temporary road closures to allow children to play outside their homes in a safe environment

Comments (5)

  • Fiona


    15 August 2013 at 09:36 |
    Lakeside Road in Palmers Green was shut off a few weeks ago for resurfacing and the kids came out in droves to play in the street. It was wonderful to see, this is a brilliant idea


  • Jessie


    15 August 2013 at 11:19 |
    I love it, I imagine that some of my neighbours might object, but if it was only for a couple of hours a week at a regular time, people would soon plan around it


  • Clare Rogers

    Clare Rogers

    15 August 2013 at 13:15 |
    Greetings from Devonshire Road! Lots of us are keen to have a play street here, and we've had two successful one-off closures over the last two years. This year, as we're in the throes of trying to apply for a 'temporary play street order', we held an informal 'chalking' session without actually closing the road. We just had four volunteer stewards in hi-vis jackets keeping an eye on traffic, and it went extremely well.

    Play streets have taken off in several London boroughs, and we saw one in Hackney which has quickly led to six others. Some people object to the idea, but once you see it in action there's really nothing to object to or even plan around. Residents can enter or leave the street in their cars as usual, with the help of a steward - and it's welcome respite from through traffic. It's an idea Enfield council is starting to get its head around and that should make it easy for any street to apply.

    My favourite thing about this is the friendships that have sprung up with neighbours. I've lived on my street for 16 years, but it's only since we started 'playing out' that I find myself chatting to 2 or 3 neighbours every time I set foot outside our front door.

    Sorry to bang on. Do visit our Facebook page and maybe message us if you'd like to apply too and want some moral support :-).



  • Rochelle


    15 August 2013 at 13:24 |
    What a wonderful idea! We used to spend every afternoon and holiday playing with other children in our street. I think it's a real shame that children these days miss out on the freedom and inventiveness that comes from lots of free play. I hope this scheme rolls out to every street in the country - I should imagine we'll see the obesity epidemic disappear very quickly!


  • David Hughes

    David Hughes

    15 August 2013 at 22:52 |
    Concerned about a galloping obesity epidemic the government has just caught up to the fact that playing out is key to balanced child development, and this week has allocated £1.1M to Play England, some of which will be used to fund street closures for the purpose of play (distributed in ways unspecified so far). Great news in terms of direct funding, but in my opinion more important in implying that the government supports street closures, which will in turn make it harder for car-obsessed or cautious councils to refuse applications.

    My guess is the current Enfield administration is well disposed to Playstreets, but in some sense cautious for reasons we can only guess. More pressure from Mums and Dads, and of course more applications, would probably help clarify the position.

    In a wider sense I think that Playstreets are part of a broader idea about the liveability of residential streets versus streets as conduits for traffic. Is there any real need for drivers to charge along a residential street which goes from nowhere to nowhere at 30mph or 30mph+ thereby preventing kids from playing out ? And behind this again are the questions about health, obesity, and what affect obesity will have on future generations.

    Personally I think that a shift in attitudes to these sorts of issues is slowly gaining ground.


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