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Luton Borough Council

Play Streets


We're currently seeking participation from interested residents to explore how a Play Streets Policy would work in Luton.

For those of you that had fun at your Jubilee and Coronation Street Parties, why not look into hosting a Play Street? They function in much the same way, if anything, Play Streets are a much simpler version of a Street Party.

To help all our residents live healthier and happier lives, particularly the youngest in our town, we've made it possible to apply to close a street for a short period of time to let children play out safely. 

This is a resident led initiative with the backing of Luton Council. The council believes that participation in this kind of community led activity can be a truly:

  • transformative
  • inclusive
  • inherently positive experience

This work supports Luton’s ongoing commitment towards becoming a child-friendly town where our children and young people can grow up feeling:

  • happy
  • healthy
  • secure

With a voice that matters and the opportunities they need to thrive. 

How to apply, important information

To participate, please request an application pack by emailing [email protected]. The team can support you with your Play Street application if required and will be available to answer any questions about the process.

Completed applications for Play Streets should be received at least 12 weeks before the proposed date of the first Play Street session. Applications will be managed in batch lots and there are four deadlines across the year that need to be worked towards, please see information below. Please make sure you submit your application before the deadline. For example: for a Play Street on 27 July, the application should be received by 1 April at the latest. For any queries around this, please contact [email protected].

  • First session falls between 1 January 2024 to 31 March 2024, submit application by 1 October 2023.
  • First session falls between 1 April 2024 to 30 June 2024, submit application by 1 January 2024.
  • First session falls between 1 July 2024 to 30 September 2024, submit application by 1 April 2024.
  • First session falls between 1 October 2024 to 31 December 2024, submit application by 1 July 2024.

What are Play Streets?

  • A Play Street can be created when a road is closed off to traffic for up to three hours, up to four times a year. This is so that children can have a space to play freely and safely right outside their homes.
  • Play Streets are organised, managed and run by local communities themselves. The council provides guidance and organises the closure of the road to traffic.
  • Adults from the street will volunteer as stewards to help manage the road closure points. There are clear expectations and guidelines in place to maintain the safety of all during a Play Street. At all times, children will remain the responsibility of their parents/carers.
  • The emphasis of Play Streets is on free, unstructured (but semi-supervised) play for children, as well as giving everyone the experience of enjoying their street as a shared space
Play out logo 

As an initiative, Play Streets have been successfully introduced across the country in many different   contexts, including highly urbanised environments. Playing Out have been championing this scheme   for over ten years and have provided input into the development of our local approach. Further   information is available at their website, Facebook and Instagram.

Play out banner  

Why should we have Play Streets?

There are lots of benefits to having a Play Street on your road, they:

  • 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, have fun and also learn about their street and neighbourhood
  • provide a great example to our children and young people on what active citizenship can achieve

Suitable streets

Most residential streets would be suitable for Play Street sessions, however some might not be. Play Streets will only be approved providing the following applies:

  • it is not a bus route
  • there is no planned highway or footway maintenance at specified location(s) on the proposed sessions/activities dates/times
  • the street is not designated traffic sensitive
  • there is a viable diversion route
  • there is no other planned event on the proposed sessions/activities dates/times (e.g street closure is not proposed to take place at a time when bin collections happen)
  • there is no significant effect on vehicular access and/or movement on surrounding roads
  • there are no other activities that require traffic management 


Open all
  • Children need and have a right to play as play is vital for their physical, emotional and social development.
  • To play energetically and freely, children also need space.
  • In urban environments, the opportunities for safe outdoor play can be limited.
  • Streets represent the majority of public space in communities and should be for everyone.
  • Playing in the street increases community cohesion and a sense of collective responsibility for children’s wellbeing and safety.
  • Children can develop friendships outside of school and across different age groups.
  • Playing out in the street allows for semi-supervised play that gives the adults a chance to also get to know one another.
  • Play Streets are also a great example to children of what community activism looks (and feels) like and what can be achieved when people come together to change their environment.
  • Play Streets aren’t taking away from the value and importance of green spaces within our communities but are instead providing new opportunities within our urban environments for people to come together.
  • Play Streets are about creating hyper-local public spaces right on the residents door steps and allow children to play out semi-supervised.
  • As children and the residents are able to come to together in this way, Play Streets are also about building a sense of community and belonging.
  • Not everyone will have access to their own space.
  • Play Streets provide more space and allow children to move more energetically and also encourage children and residents to mix more and meet their neighbours.
  • The road closure will only affect through traffic.
  • Residents can still drive in and out during the time a Play Street is underway (guided by a Steward and at walking speed to make it safe for everyone).
  • The road closures are also only temporary and will last up to three hours a time.
  • All residents and affected properties will have been suitably notified of when a Play Street is taking place.
  • Yes, the road closure will only affect through traffic.
  • Any visitors/deliveries that are due to come in at the time of a Play Street will be allowed to enter the street.
  • They will be guided in/out by a steward at walking speed.
  • All residents and affected properties will have been suitably notified of when a Play Street is taking place.
  • The level of risk to damage is not expected to be much more than on a normal day.
  • There have been very few incidents of damage in the hundreds of Play Streets that have taken place over the country.
  • All residents and affected properties will have been suitably notified of when a Play Street is taking place so if necessary, owners can move their cars but there is no expectation or requirement that they do so.
  • Children are not left fully unsupervised during a Play Street so there would always be adults around to step in as needed. Parents are responsible for their children during the Play Street and the Organiser, Deputy and Stewards will also be on hand to ensure that children are playing out safely and responsibly.
  • The Organisers might have decided to take out Public Liability Insurance for these events but it is not mandatory.
  • Ultimately, the liability situation would be no different with a Play Street than it would be under normal circumstances.
  • People will take responsibility for their own actions with parents being fully responsible for their children.
  • Residents will need to resolve any issues between each other and their insurers.
  • Play Streets provide a great opportunity for parents to talk to their children about road safety.
  • There are safety guidelines in place that make it very clear when the road is ‘safe to play’ and when things are ‘back to normal.
  • In other areas that have already introduced these sessions, there has been strong agreement that even very young children are able to understand the difference between a Play Street and a normal street.
  • Play Streets are for the community – the children are the catalyst.
  • Organisers should make sure that residents of all ages are welcome to be out on the road at the time of Play Street.
  • These events are about bringing the community together just as much as they are in getting the children outside and playing.
  • Those without children can still support the Play Street by volunteering to help steward or they can just support the event by simply turning up, enjoying themselves and meeting their neighbours.
  • Times are different now and streets are much more traffic dominated.
  • By raising an official and legal notice to close the road to through traffic and having the adult stewards in place to monitor the closure points, people are provided with the reassurance that these events are safe.
  • The impacts and benefits of having a Play Street are not limited to the time they are running and they can act as a first step towards changing attitudes around what a street should look like in the future.
  • Outdoor events are always subject to the bad weather.
  • Others haven’t let the weather deter them (where feasible) but it is the decision of the organisers as to whether they want to go ahead with the session. If the Play Street does go ahead, take note of any additional hazards such as slippery roads and pavements.
  • Play Streets are resident led initiatives that would only be publicised to members of the street.
  • While streets are public places, Play Streets are not public events and so it is very unlikely that there would be many additional people turn up to take part.
  • If other people do turn up, take the opportunity to talk with them about what you’re doing as they might be interested in introducing one to their own street.
  • The emphasis of having a Play Street is about creating a space for child-led free play and community building.
  • Unlike with Street Parties, a Play Street may not involve the placement of any structures (e.g. inflatables; stalls) on the highway during its use.
  • Play Streets sessions are typically shorter than Street Parties.
  • The road closure is for through traffic only, any resident (including visitors/deliveries) are continually permitted vehicular access to/from their property.

Help and support

If you are interested in setting up a Play Street on your road and want to find out more, please email [email protected]

© 2024 Luton Council, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ