Bringing Communities Together: The Play Streets Initiative Introduced in Bradford

posted in: council, News | 0

In an era where children spend increasingly more time indoors, Bradford has launched an exciting new initiative designed to bring back the joy of outdoor play. The Play Streets initiative aims to make residential streets safe spaces for children to play and for communities to come together, fostering a renewed sense of community spirit and outdoor activity.

What are Play Streets?

A Play Street is a road temporarily closed to through traffic, creating a safe and inviting space for children to play outside. This initiative not only encourages kids to be more active but also provides a valuable opportunity for neighbours to connect and strengthen their community bonds.

Residents living on quiet residential streets or cul-de-sacs can apply to close their streets for 1-3 hours, reducing traffic and allowing children to enjoy outdoor activities safely. The council supports this scheme by permitting road closures, but local community-based organizations or residents are responsible for organizing and stewarding the sessions. Parents and carers remain responsible for supervising their children during these times.

The Need for Play Streets

Recent studies, such as the Born in Bradford study, have highlighted a worrying trend: 64% of 9 to 10-year-olds are not getting their recommended daily exercise and spend up to 70% of their day sitting down. Active and imaginative play is crucial for children’s physical development, confidence, and social skills, yet opportunities for such play are dwindling, particularly in densely populated urban areas.

There are many reasons why children are spending less time outdoors, with traffic danger being a significant concern for many parents. Playing Out, a national organization supporting children’s right to play, suggests that fear of traffic and concerns about parental judgment are major barriers preventing kids from playing outside.

Community and Council Support

Bradford Council has shown strong support for the Play Streets initiative. Cllr Sue Duffy, Portfolio Holder for Children and Families and Living Well, emphasized the importance of creating more outdoor play opportunities, citing the long-term physical and mental health benefits for children. Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, echoed this sentiment, noting the success of Play Streets across the UK in fostering active lifestyles and stronger communities.

The initiative follows successful pilot sessions held in October last year and January this year, with around 30 adults and 35 children participating. These sessions demonstrated the positive impact of temporarily restricting traffic on residential streets.

How to Get Involved

Residents interested in organizing a Play Street session should start by discussing the idea with their neighbours to gather support and agree on convenient dates and times. Applications can be made through the Bradford Council website, with the process taking approximately four weeks. Once approved, the council will provide ‘road closed’ signs and cones to ensure safety.

To minimize disruption, residents will still have vehicle access to their homes during Play Street sessions but are reminded to drive at a walking pace and be mindful of children playing.

While the council processes the applications and approves road closures, the actual organization and stewardship of Play Street sessions are managed by local community-based organizations or residents, ensuring that the initiative remains community-driven and independent of the council.

By creating safe, temporary play spaces, Bradford’s Play Streets initiative is set to revive outdoor play, enhance physical activity among children, and bring communities closer together. For more information and to apply, visit the Bradford Council website. Let’s work together to create vibrant, playful streets for our children and our community.