Children in Hackney are set to reclaim the streets, thanks to a groundbreaking scheme that will close selected streets to through traffic, turning them into “play streets”.
Hackney has become the first borough in London to introduce Temporary Play Street Orders (TPSOs), which allow parents to apply to the council to close their street for a few hours per week or month.
Stoke Newington resident and mum of three Claudia Draper, approached Hackney Council about launching the scheme. She said: “It’s brilliant that councillors have listened to residents and had the foresight to do this. At our annual street parties, the best thing is seeing the children running around, having fun without the fear of cars on the roads.
“Hopefully now playing out in the street won’t be a once a year treat, but a normal part of our kids’ lives, as well as being something that brings the community closer together. Certainly our road has become a much friendlier place since we started having street parties, and that has huge benefits for everyone, not just the kids.”
Oldfield Road, in Stoke Newington, closed for the first time on Sunday afternoon (9 September). Around 70 children from Oldfield Road and surrounding streets played together, while older residents enjoyed meeting and chatting to neighbours.
Residents in another six streets have already expressed an interest in joining the scheme.
Those who live in play streets can still drive to and from their homes, and will be guided at walking pace by volunteer stewards stationed at each end of the street.
Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said, "As an inner London borough, we think it’s important to give children as many opportunities to play outside as possible.
“Making residential streets safer has long been a priority of ours. In March we completed the implementation of a 20mph speed limit for all residential streets in the borough and as a result those drivers still using our streets as short cuts to bypass busier roads do so slower and more safely than before.
“The streets we’re considering closing have all been requested by residents, so it seems a popular move with parents too.”
The move is backed by London Play. Chair Melian Mansfield said: “Hackney is to be applauded for taking this initiative which will be seen to benefit children and their communities in many different ways. We hope that other boroughs will follow suit and help make London a city where children are truly able to play freely and safely outdoors.”
To find out more about the Play Streets scheme contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 8356 3023.