Red Tape Cut to Encourage Playing Out!

A campaign to enable more children and young people to play out safely on residential streets is being backed by the city council.

The green light has been given for more frequent road closures for a few hours after school by groups of neighbours and communities, without having to apply each time. Until now, residents have been allowed to apply for three formal road closures a year for street parties or other community activities.

Instead they will be able to do one annual application as long as all the neighbours are consulted. The aim is to encourage more resident-organised street play sessions for children and young people in their streets, based on a model developed by the Bristol-based Playing Out project, where the street becomes a temporary ‘play street’, with through traffic diverted but residents still have car access for parking. Residents ‘steward’ either end of the street to ensure this happens safely.

It will highlight the benefit for communities of seeking more playing out opportunities for their children and young people, together with a number of street play events around Bristol, organised by residents with support from our partners Playing Out and Streets Alive

Alice Ferguson, co-founder and Director of the Playing Out project said: “There is a widespread feeling that children need to have more freedom to play outside safely, for their health and happiness. We are very happy to see Bristol taking a lead in this way and hope that other cities will soon follow.”

Chris Gittins, Director of Streets Alive said, “During the 100s of street parties in Bristol every year residents have told us how amazing it is for kids to be able to play safely for a change in the street. Our surveys have clearly shown that the events give them courage to support play at other times in the street or elsewhere.”

Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Cllr Clare Campion-Smith said: “Playing is such an important part of a child’s life, giving them the freedom to run around outside and enjoy themselves with their friends. It’s healthy, it’s fun and it helps build our communities.

“Bristol has a strong reputation for encouraging street parties, as was seen for the Royal Wedding. We now want to lead the way in helping communities organise safe playing out for children and young people in our neighbourhoods on a more regular basis.”

Cllr Jon Rogers, Cabinet Member for Care and Health said: “This is a very significant move for a city the size of Bristol, sending out a clear signal to parents and communities that we will support them organise street play activities. Parents are concerned that our children and young people are living more sedentary life styles, so initiatives like this are an important way of encouraging our youngsters to play outside in a safe environment.”

Transport Cabinet Member Tim Kent said: “We were very keen that the rules governing street closures should be relaxed and red tape cut to help community groups make this initiative happen on the ground. We believe this is a first for our city and I hope will be taken up enthusiastically.”

Details of the new procedure and a new application form are being worked on by council officers and will be launched this autumn.

Residents wanting to organise ‘playing out’ sessions should contact [email protected] or visit  

Residents wanting to organise a play-friendly street parties should see: or  

Playday is the national celebration of children’s right to play. Each year thousands of children take part in play activities across the country. These are organised by local people with the support of Play England. Playday is organised to give children and families a great day out, and to get across some important messages about play and children. For more information visit the Playday website

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