Welcome to OPAG’s Guide to Play Streets

A ‘Play Street’ is where a group of residents close off the road to through traffic for a short period, eg for an afternoon to create an opportunity for children to play freely and safely. Play streets have been taking place all over the country and they are becoming more popular. Oldham Play Action Group have been involved in running play streets over the last four years and are delighted that Oldham Council are keen to see more and more play streets.

It’s easy to organise a Play Street and Oldham Council want to encourage many more residents to get together and run their own play street by making it even easier.

From August 2019 Oldham Council have simplified the process for temporary road closures. You just need to complete a simple online form to cover your street for the day or even multiple days eg the first Sunday of every month. You will be able to close off your road for up to 3 hours.

The street is closed to through traffic during the play street session but people who live there will still have the right to come and go.

Parents/carers will remain responsible for the supervision and safety of children playing out on the street during the session.

Starting at the beginning

The first thing you need to do is get together a small organising group, identify an appropriate road, consult your neighbours and think about any potential partners or organisations you may want to work with, for example a tenants and residents association.

What makes a good play street ?

The most important factor in identifying a good street to transform into a play street is neighbours who want to be enthusiastically and actively involved. Quiet residential streets and cul de sacs lend themselves well to play streets,  as do roads that offer a straightforward alternative route to other streets. Main roads and bus routes are not generally suitable but residents could look at working with neighbours on a nearby side street, to hold a play street together.

Consulting with your neighbours

It is important to talk to your neighbours about your idea before you go ahead. Use the time to get people involved with helping on the day. Your application will be considered on the understanding that you have spoken to your neighbours, and that people are supportive.

Although the road is closed to through traffic, residents and their visitors still have the right to come and go from their homes. We manage this by having someone from the group act as a steward in a high viz vest escorting cars in or out at walking pace with their hazard lights on. We also suggest in advance that residents park their cars on an unused section of the road or a neighbouring street for the duration of the event, which most people are happy to do.


Example Letter

To our neighbours on Anyevery Street,

On Saturday 29th June, a group of residents would like to turn Anyevery Street into a ‘Play Street’. We would like to do it as a one off activity as part of the Greenacres Summer Fair Funday.

We would like to ask residents to show their support in closing the street to through traffic from 1 – 4 pm  to let children to play freely and safely and enjoy the traditional games some of us played as kids.  Activities would include skipping, hula hooping, hopscotch, face painting, marbles etc. We are not promoting ball games.

The street play would be supervised by volunteers. Publicity will be restricted to this street and neighbouring streets.

The road would have a highways ‘closed except for access’ sign.  The road can still be used for residents parking and residents would still be able to drive in and out of the street escorted by a volunteer who will move children out of the way. Or you could park in the carpark on Anyother Street for the day and join the fun.

Play streets have the backing of Oldham Council.

We would value your support, if you have any questions , concerns or want to help out please let me know on ............( contact number number) by ….. (date)

Thanks, best wishes, ........... from .................


Dealing with any concerns or objections

Concerns may include noise nuisance, lack of access to property, damage to cars or influx of people from outside the area.

You could focus on the benefits by pointing out some of the positive things that come from involvement in play streets. These could help form responses to those who oppose or need a bit more persuasion about your planned event.

Play streets can contribute to –

Children and young people learning acceptable behaviour and learning to respect people and property.

Increased interaction with neighbours, positive interaction across different generations and cultures and between younger and older children.

Bring back childhood memories of the games we used to play.

Opportunity to play in fresh air, get some exercise without realising it, reduce boredom, provide diversionary activities, gets children off the PlayStation and experience playing out.

Offers alternative opportunities for physical leisure activities and will also involve people who would be reluctant to get involved in traditional sports. Improve health and wellbeing.

Helps keep children safe from harm.

Helps children and young people to identify and manage risks for themselves.

It’s not just for the children though, play streets is a great way to bring the whole community together and involve people across the generations.

Involve parents, carers and grandparents in the day and value their skills and experiences, to strengthen family bonds and give families a chance to play and have fun together.

Children and young people learning and developing new skills including problem solving, co-operation, creativity, sharing and turn taking, new hobbies and pastimes they can organise themselves, taking responsibility, having a valued and visible place within the community, developing friendships, improved communication.

They can even contribute a small step towards much bigger goals that include reducing isolation, reducing anti-social behaviour and reduction of childhood obesity.


Roles and Responsibilities

It is useful to decide in advance who will do what on the day, to avoid confusion and ensure everything gets done. You will need someone to act as a steward. They will need to liaise with residents and their visitors who want to drive in or out of the street during the event. They will escort cars to and from the barrier at walking pace, asking them to put on their hazard lights and shouting over to others instruction to clear the area before allowing movement.

Meeters and greeters help create a friendly and welcoming feel to your event.

Having people to help get the activities going is useful.

Have someone as a floater/troubleshooter so they can keep an overall eye on proceedings without being busy doing other things.

Have someone who has some knowledge of first aid. OPAG sometimes has access to free or subsidised places on first aid courses, so do get in touch if this would help your group.


 Parents/carers remain responsible for their own children at all times.


Event Notification

Oldham Council have simplified the process for applying for an event, to make it really easy for people to organise a play street.


Example Risk Assessment

These days everything needs a risk assessment but this is mostly about writing down those common sense points you cover when you are planning your day to show you have thought things through.

We have included an example copy of one of our play street risk assessment as a guide. Please don’t just copy it though, you need to make it your own by focusing on your street and circumstances and including opportunities and challenges that offers.

For risk assessment think ‘Aaargh... what could go wrong ?’ if you plan to take into account worst case scenario it usually doesn’t happen !


Online form

It is now a quick and straightforward online form

You can access the form through Oldham Council’s website by going to https://www.oldham.gov.uk/playstreets

Wherever possible and practical Oldham Council will aim to grant a temporary road closure to enable a play street event to go ahead.

If you are uncertain about anything it asks or want a chat about play streets please give OPAG a ring on 0161 678 9662.



A group of residents organising their own play street will not be required to hold any specific insurance, as long as the activities being held are simple ones, as suggested in the next section, and do not include, for example, a bouncy castle.

If you are working with Oldham Play Action Group we hold public liability insurance which covers us for the delivery of this type of event.

If you are working in partnership with a housing provider please talk to them about the activity/events insurance they have.


Ideas for games and activities

Children can bring their bikes, scooters, roller skates and home made bogie carts,

Swingball tournament, Spacehopper grand prix, synchronised bounce, follow my leader. Hula hooping, Cats Cradle, Pitoo, Tic Tac Toe

Use varied items to create an obstacle course.

Elastics for England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales

Chalking hopscotch and playground markings

Draw some circles round hoops to chalk inside so it doesn’t end up everywhere. Try to determine beforehand with residents and/or housing association ‘how much chalk is too much chalk’ so that everyone knows where they stand.

Old fashioned games like What’s the Time Mr Wolf ?, dragons, M.I.L.K, variations on tig games, stuck in the mud, Captain’s Coming, Simon Says,  marbles (for borrowing not for keeps) etc

Egg and spoon racing, tug of war, challenge games for team work and co-operation. Skipping games and rhymes. Double dutch skipping

A DIY circus with plate spinning, clown, diabolo, devil stick, pretend tightrope walking with a skipping rope on the ground and balancing aid.

Make  junk instruments and create some noise and attract others to get involved on the day. Play parachute games. Blow bubbles. Have a water fight on a sunny day.

OPAG do not promote ball games as we try to minimise possibilities of damage and breakage.



Ideas for equipment and resources

Road closure signs – assuming your application is successful, you will be contacted to arrange deliver/collection of signs

Broom, dustpan and brush, bin bags, gazebo, first aid kit, bin bags

Swingballs, skipping ropes, hula hoops, bubbles, recycled bubble making things

dominos, chalk, marbles, hopscotch chalk, things for obstacle course

Ten pin bowling from plastic pop bottles, spinning plates, tug of war rope, recycled tyre, spacehoppers, pumps and stoppers, elastics, ideas  for floor markings

Juice or water and cups


You might also be able to borrow games such as Giant Jenga, Giant Draughts, Snakes and Ladders, Karom Board


Play streets would not include larger items such as bouncy castles, as this would take you into a different and more complicated type of outdoor event which would require additional permissions and insurances.


Other things you may find useful are

Model Photo/Video/ Digital Images consent for partners

You may want to take photographs or video for your social media, or if you have received any funding to show your funders what you have done. It is important that you get consent to use the images taken.

You can adapt the wording on OPAGs consent form to cover what you may need.

Consent for the use of photographs, video footage, digital image by …….. Group



I  permit …….. to use my child’s photographs, video footage or digital image in the following ways:


On displays within the … building.
As part of a powerpoint/slideshow presentation by … group or at … event.
In printed publications produced by ………..
On ……… website or group’s official Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram or other social media
In publicity and promotional materials for …. Or their partners and funders.


Signed…………………………………………………………… Date……………………….   


Relationship to child …………………………………………………………………………..


Name of child…………………………………………….Phone number……………………


If you have an queries please speak to……… on ..


Final Planning

Litterpick on the morning of the event, make sure you have litterpickers, brush, shovel and bags available.

Check area, including surrounding grassed areas for dog fouling and have a pooper scooper at the ready.

Knock on doors to remind residents in case they want to park their cars elsewhere.

Make sure you have enough adults to help run the event. Have hi viz jackets to identify the organisers and volunteers.

Run through your risk assessment together.

Ensure everyone is aware of the location of first aid point and who is acting as first aider for the day.

Be clear who is doing what and who is responsible for each aspect of your event. Will the same stewards have responsibility for dealing with motorists for the entire event or will you swap roles so volunteers experience different roles.

Make sure the road signs are in the correct place.


Time to get started

OPAG can help you with advice and support over the phone, come along to your planning meeting or work alongside you to run your first play street.

Oldham Cares have set up a Fast Grants scheme for groups of residents to apply for up to £ 500 which could be used to pay OPAG to help you plan and run a play street with you and to buy equipment you need to run your own events in the future.

You can get information about Fast Grants from



To get in touch with Oldham Play Action Group


Please email us on playactiongroup@hotmail.com or call on 0161 678 9662.


We look forward to hearing from you and seeing even more play street events taking place across Oldham.


Oldham Play Action Group

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Sample risk assessment PLAY STREET | 16/08/2019

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