Road Safety News

Brent residents to get chance to turn roads into car-free play areas

Monday 23rd November 2015

Photo: Hammersmith & Fulham Council via Flickr

Brent Council has agreed a cabinet report which paves the way for local communities to regularly convert their streets into car-free play areas for their children.

Typically taking place for one afternoon a month, the council says the scheme follows a successful pilot which took place earlier in the year.

Brent Council hopes that the scheme will allow children to take full advantage of the additional playground, quite literally on their doorstep.

To get the scheme started, the council is covering the upfront costs, including the public advertising required for Traffic Management Orders, and are also covering the cost of public liability insurance. The council has also found a sponsor to provide the necessary free traffic cones and signs.

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Brent's cabinet member for the environment, said: “Parents are always keen for somewhere safe and convenient for their kids to play, so this is a wonderful idea.

“This is a great example of the council making life easier by taking away the hassle (and cost) of the legal requirements - and promoting healthy, active lifestyle opportunities for your people.”

Earlier this year the campaign group 20s Plenty for Us called for a 20mph national urban speed limit in order to make it possible for more children to play outdoors.


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Back in the 1950's I played in the streets of North London, but almost always on the pavements. "Don't play in the road" was Mum's advice, and that with the relative low traffic levels back then. Todays moves seem to smack of rebellion than commonsense.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

What a lovely and old fashioned idea. Children playing out in the streets again. Takes me back to the 1950s when I was a small child and there was far less than 5% of car travel as there is nowadays.

A dustbin and a plastic sign that will work for signage? What about the comings and goings as with the cars parked on both sides of the road. People that are residents and business persons making deliveries etc will have to continue to have access as would emergency vehicles and the possible slowing down of these services may cause problems and could have consequences. Instead.... How about a walking bus to the local park and then play all the games that kids want or maybe negotiate with the use of the local schools. Their playground is a LA facility that is never used whilst school is out, evenings and during the summer hols. Seems to me to be a lot safer than playing out on the streets.

Let's not forget that the Highway is deemed to be used for the PASSAGE of persons, vehicles etc.
Bob Craven lancs....Space is Safer Campaigner

Agree (10) | Disagree (1)

A Google map of much of the London Borough of Brent (one of the largest in London) will show several green areas, many are substantially sized parks:

But the attraction for home dwellers for their own playground outside their homes must be quite high. It may also be, that in getting such road closures on a regular basis makes a precedent for higher house values amongst some, though this may deter others. The problems have been spoken of: teaching children to respect roads that are open to all traffic, and getting them to understand and observe the differences. The road is in essence still a road. Encouraging play in the road brings risks.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (9) | Disagree (4)

OK Duncan, Hugh and Rod
Each of you has had two posts in this thread and I suspect without intervention this could well rumble on for some while. Can I therefore suggest that the three of you now leave it to others (should they wish to do so) to comment on the merits (or otherwise) of this initiative. Thanks for your cooperation.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

Agree (6) | Disagree (3)

I know what the regulations say Rod which is why I mentioned them. The paragraph that Rod has cherry picked from the regulations to 'prove' his point is but a small part of the much wider responsibility placed on the authority in terms of the process that must be gone through before a road can be closed. The briefing paper that Rod quotes goes on to say "As indicated below, this is not a simple thing to make an Order and can often be expensive. A local authority is unlikely to make a TRO unless it has a significant problem and substantial local support." The point about the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 conveniently misses out the fact that local police forces must provide the support that is required under the 1847 Act to enforce the closure.

Far from the Council taking away the hassle and cost of these closures the costs will still have to be paid and the process adhered to according to the regulations no matter what a Councillor has to say to the contrary.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (3) | Disagree (5)

Just to remind Duncan that the actual regulations say (

"the authority may by order restrict or prohibit temporarily the use of that road, or of any part of it, by vehicles, or vehicles of any class, or by pedestrians, to such extent and subject to such conditions or exceptions as they may consider necessary."

Hence it can be closed for motor vehicles, but open for any other class or form of vehicle including cyclists.

Roads may also be restricted for motor vehicle access under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 and not actually need a TRO.

More than ever local authorities need to "sweat their assets", so why shouldn't they just occasionally enable an asset to be used far more widely than the rest of the year.

Regarding ball games being played on public roads this is only an offence if it causes the annoyance of road users. As no motor vehicles will be on such a road it is difficult to see how driving road users can be annoyed. For the record, I understand that even on an "open" public highway the maximum fine for an adult for such an offence is £10.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (5) | Disagree (8)

Rod: By creating these 'play' streets, I think the Councils are losing sight of what a highway is for and what it isn't for. Even if you close a road to traffic, it remains a highway and therefore it is still an offence to play rounders on it if it causes annoyance to users.

The Council's report cites Kempe Road as the 'succesful pilot', however if you look at it on google maps, guess what's at the end of the road...a play area/park! A 'play street' is, I'm afraid, a contradiction in terms. If it was called a 'play highway' even more so.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (11) | Disagree (8)

Just to remind Rod that if a road is temporarily closed then it is closed to cyclists as well as motor vehicles.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (15) | Disagree (6)

Funny how we send the wrong message through our road signs. Perhaps it should say :-

for, cycling, hopscotch, roller skating, rounders, chatting, chalk art, pogo sticks, walking, and generally enjoying our street.

Surely the point is "How do you teach grown adults it is NOT safe to drive around not expecting children to be using the road all the other afternoons of the month.

I am sure that any objections would be considered proportionately as in any other Traffic Order.

But note that in some parts of the country it is not deemed necessary to use a TRO to temporarily restrict motor vehicles.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (6) | Disagree (17)

Do they not have private gardens, play areas, public parks and playing fields in Brent? I hope the legal requirements would still allow those residents who do not want children using the highway outside their homes as a play area, to object. Children playing in the road can blight residents lives and cause stress, just as much as traffic.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (18) | Disagree (10)

The Council getting behind the Traffic Orders and advertising and picking up the tab for it is the way forward if it is to be done at all. To me though, the question is: How do you teach young children it is NOT safe to play in the road all the other afternoons in the month?
Pat , Wales

Agree (17) | Disagree (3)