Play streets

How we can help keep your street safe for your kids to play

Would you like your children to play out safely in your street? We want to work with you to set up play streets in your area.

What is a play street?

A child on a Space Hopper with other children on bicycles.

A play street is a free scheme whereby residents come together to give children a chance to play freely and safely close to their homes. It is led by residents but supported by us. 

Play streets:

  • take place for an hour or 2 at a time
  • happen once a month or every other week
  • happen on quiet residential streets
  • are closed to through traffic, but residents can still drive in and out at walking speed (supervised by volunteers)

Parents are responsible for their own children.

The street becomes a safe space for children to play and neighbours to socialise.

Why play streets?

Child-led play is increasingly unavailable to children. 50 years ago, most children played out on the streets near their homes but today it’s often not possible to do so. 

For children, play streets are the perfect spaces for:

  • active, imaginative, child-led play
  • making friends and developing social skills
  • playing right next to home
  • riding bikes and scooters, playing with skipping ropes and hula hoops
  • boosting physical and mental health

For adults, play streets mean:

  • the chance to chat with the neighbours
  • making streets feel friendlier
  • building a community

How to get involved

The process usually involves a lead organiser getting together a handful of residents to act as stewards. If you are a parent, carer or resident who is interested, please contact us at: begreen@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk.

We will work with you to check if your street is suitable, talk through questions and concerns and walk you through next steps.

Further information

The Playing Out website has a wealth of information, free downloadable resources and stories about play streets from all around the UK.

If you have any other questions or concerns, please email begreen@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk.

Questions and answers

Can you still access your house if there’s a play street?

Yes. Residents in cars can still drive in and out during a play street. The same applies to visitors and deliveries. Stewards will move aside the temporary barriers and escort the vehicles at walking pace. It is only through traffic that cannot access the road during a play street.

Is your road appropriate for a play street?

Play streets work best on relatively quiet, residential streets. If you live on a main road or bus route, it may not be possible to create a play street on your road. However, it might be possible to use a nearby road instead, so please do still get in touch.

How much work is involved?

We’re working to make the process as easy and as smooth for you as possible. If you contact us about setting up a play street, we will assess the suitability of your street with you. We'll then help you to talk to residents and promote the street. If you’re the main organiser of the play street, you’ll need to coordinate a handful of volunteers for a few hours every other week or every month.

If you would like to set up a play street but are worried about time constraints, you could consider sharing the responsibilities with a few other people. We would also encourage you to go ahead with putting on the first session. If you change your mind later, there is no obligation to continue.

Do you need to spend money to set up play street?

No. We will provide you with road closure signs and high-visibility jackets. We also have several play street kits which include colourful chalks and skipping ropes.

Will your property be safe?

In our play street trials, we found that children were playing in an everyday way, for example drawing with chalk or riding bikes, and not posing a risk to property. However, during a play street session, parents and guardians are responsible for their children. This means that any risky behaviour is the responsibility of the child’s parents or guardians, as normal. Any concerns about damage to property can be resolved between residents just as they would be in any other public space, such as a playground or car park. 

Who is responsible for the children?

Children are the responsibility of their parents or guardians as usual. Parents or guardians are responsible for supervising their own children just as they are in other public spaces such as parks.

When can a play street take place?

We recommend that play streets take place for an hour or two, either after school or at the weekend.

Can play streets run in the winter?

Yes, play streets can run all year round if weather conditions are safe. If you are worried about the cold, you could consider making the play street shorter (perhaps 45 minutes or an hour). However, there is no obligation to keep a play street going through the winter if you don’t want to.

How long does it take to get a play street up and running?

The length of time varies, but it can take a few months for a play street to become a reality. If you’re interested, please get in touch with us as soon as possible.

What responsibilities will you have as the lead organiser?

Parents and guardians have responsibility for their own children as normal, but as the lead organiser you will be responsible for:

  • ensuring that parents and guardians are aware they are responsible for their own children
  • managing the closure and re-opening of the road safely, including the clearing away of any resources or signs used
  • ensuring that there is no damage to the public highway

Do you need insurance to run a play street?

We do not require you to take out insurance for a play street to go ahead. In practice, play streets are very low risk and most UK groups who run play streets do not have insurance. To help minimise your risk, we will help you to complete a simple risk assessment before the play street is set up. If you have any questions or concerns about insurance or risk, contact us at: begreen@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk.

We're not liable for any damage, loss or injury arising from a play street.