A Play Street is an event where a road is closed off to traffic for a few hours so that children can have a safe space to play freely. Play Streets are organised, managed and run by local communities themselves. We will provide all relevant orders to close the road. There is no charge for orders in relation to Play Streets.

Play Streets:

  • Give children more opportunities to play in a safe space close to their homes.
  • Provide a chance for residents to come together and for everyone to get to know their neighbours.
  • Help children to be physically active and healthier, learn about  their street and neighbourhood and have fun together

How to set up a Play Street

Please read the Play Streets Guide.

If you would like to apply for a Play Street, please fill out the application below and return it to: Network.Co-ordination@merton.gov.uk 

You must apply 6 weeks before your event date.

You will also need the following documents:

For more information and inspiration for your Play Street, please see the links below.

Please tweet about your day using the hashtag #mertonplaystreets

​​More tips, advice and support for organising a successful event can be found on the Streets Alive website​.

Refused applications 

We will refuse your application if there are planned road works or other activities that would adversely affect either the event itself or the planned works programmed. However, we would seek to find alternative dates when the event could be held. We could also refuse if we had concerns about safety. 

Road closures

It is likely that a road can be closed if it is not used by a large amount of through traffic, is not a bus route or a priority for emergency vehicles. If you do close the road we ask you put up signs advising drivers and make sure any barriers are supervised so they can be quickly moved if required.

Streets are far more congested than they were twenty or thirty years ago and it is no longer common to see children out playing as it used to be. Having to organise an official road closure in order to use the street in this way is not an ideal situation and is not a long-term solution. In some very quiet streets, a road closure might not be necessary in order for children to safely play in the road. However, the danger from fast-moving traffic is one of the main reasons that children don’t play outside in modern times. In many residential streets, cars, both parked and moving, dominate to such an extent that play becomes impossible. In this instance, closing the road to through-traffic and having stewards in place provides the reassurance parents need to allow their children to play out while still allowing residents car access. Ideally, our streets should be spaces where cars and people of all ages can coexist happily.  

Children from other roads  

Each Play Street is organised by residents and only publicised through flyers and posters on their own street. They are for the children to have a chance to play right outside their front doors and not designed to be large scale public ‘events’.  

Although Play Streets only apply to the street which is closed, it should be remembered that the street is a public space, so it is not possible or desirable to try to exclude people coming in from outside.  

Noise   

It could be argued that the sound of children playing is a wonderful thing and something we no longer hear enough of. At present, the noise associated with traffic, planes and activities such as road works can be tolerated. Even those who do not drive have to live with traffic noise, which most people have grown accustomed to.  

Children cannot be contained within houses, cars and designated ‘play areas’. The city they live in is theirs too and it is their right to use the space in the way they need to. Play Streets are normally only a few hours long and take place on a weekend.   

If a Play Street event was excessively or unreasonably loud, it may be appropriate to organise a street meeting to discuss it and try to reach a solution everyone is happy with. 

Damage to property

In terms of damage to property (including cars), the liability situation is no different with a road closure than under normal circumstances for example. People take responsibility for their own actions. Parents will have ultimate responsibility for their own children and residents will need to resolve any issues between each other and their insurers.

Unsupervised children  

It is made very clear that parents are responsible for their own children during sessions, but if any adult sees children playing out on the street seriously misbehaving or causing damage or injury they should take responsibility to speak to them or their parents about it in a reasonable way. Being kept in check by other adults in our community is an important learning experience. 

Road safety

Playing out sessions are a good opportunity for parents to talk to their children about road safety and the danger of traffic but also to observe what streets could be like if traffic was less dominant and begin to think about ways to slow cars on their street. 

Getting involved

Organisers should make sure that residents of all ages feel welcome to be out on the street and sessions do not just feel like family events. At some sessions, older residents or those without children have helped to steward or just enjoyed sitting out, meeting neighbours and sharing memories about their own childhood play experiences. Parents may assume that those without young children will not be interested in being involved, so do make it clear to them if you want to be. Your support will certainly be welcome! 

Other benefits  

As well as safer and cleaner streets, another key factor in enabling street play is parental permission. Parents feel anxious about allowing children to play on the street for all sorts of reasons and often feel unsure about the cultural acceptability of letting kids play out on the street. Play Streets are a chance for parents to get together and support each other’s desire to let children play out.

Contact us

Advice and support is available for your Play Streets application. You can email us at Network.Co-ordination@merton.gov.uk