Foreword by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London VI

НазваниеForeword by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London VI
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Guide to preparing play strategies

Planning inclusive play spaces and opportunities for all London’s children and young people


Greater London Authority

April 2005

Published by

Greater London Authority

City Hall

The Queen’s Walk

London SE1 2AA

Enquiries 020 7983 4100

Minicom 020 7983 4458

ISBN 1 85261 728 4

Photography credits

Front cover © Philip Wolmuth/London Play.

All other photographs © Hayley Madden. Taken at Playday, Trafalgar Square, 4 August 2004.

Copies of this document are available from or by calling 020 7983 4100.

The GLA acknowledges the work of and extends thanks to the charity, London Play, and its former director Adrian Voce, who researched and drafted the Guide to Preparing Play Strategies on behalf of the Mayor of London. In addition, thanks are extended to the Children’s Play Council, Rob Wheway, Bernard Speigal, Alan Sutton, Katie Snook, Jane Healey, members of the advisory group, representatives of the London borough play services and London’s voluntary play associations, all respondents to the public consultation and others who have assisted in the preparation of this guide.


foreword by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London vi

Part 1 The need for play strategies 1

1 introduction 1

Purpose of the guide 3

2 play and its benefits 4

Defining children’s play 4

The benefits of play 4

Play and the environment 5

Barriers to play 6

Inequalities and social exclusion 7

Anti-social behaviour 7

3 play provision 9

When and where children play 9

Good play provision? 10

Design and cost 12

Human resources 12

4 the policy context for play 13

The Play Review 13

Every Child Matters and Change for Children 13

The National Childcare Strategy 13

Regeneration 14

Planning policy 14

London policy context 14

Local policy context 16

Play and the cultural and community strategies 16

Children and Young People’s Plan 17

Play and best value 17

5 the purpose and scope of the play strategy 18

Strategic benefits 18

Scope 19

Main objectives 22

Timetable 22

Part 2 Preparing a play strategy 25

6 the methodology and stages to preparing a play strategy 25

Introduction 25

Process and development 25

Involving children and young people 25

Stage 1: Preparation and scoping 26

Managing the process 26

Lead officers and play champions 26

External advice and facilitation 26

Agreeing the principles 27

Stage 2: Review 29

Stage 3: Identifying, mapping and auditing current provision 30

Desktop study 30

Dedicated play spaces 31

Adventure playgrounds 31

Non-dedicated play spaces 31

Home Zones 32

Using geographical information systems (GIS) 34

Developing a play space typology 34

Tier 1 – Description of location 35

Tier 2 – Playground classification 36

Audit of existing provision 37

Issues to address in the audit 37

- Quantity 37

- Quality (including equality and inclusiveness) 38

- Accessibility 39

Risk and safety 40

Stage 4: Consultation – engaging children and young people 43

Consultation methods 44

Stage 5: Analysis and identification of objectives 48

Analysis of the audit 48

Comparing supply and demand for children’s play space 48

Developing local standards and indicators 49

Best Value Performance Indicators 50

The Six Acre Standard 50

Prioritising 51

Stage 6: Preparation of the strategy and action plan 52

Strategy 52

Action plan 53

Consultation 54

Adoption 54

Part 3 Implementation 55

7 making the play strategy happen 55

Policies for play 55

Development briefs/frameworks/master plans 55

External funding 56

Government funding 56

National Lottery 56

Developers’ agreements 58

Community and partnership working 58

Involving children and young people 60

Ways to improve provision 61

Quality assurance 62

Monitoring and review 62

Notes and references 64

Appendices 67

A Best Value Performance Indicator 115 67

The status of the local authority’s policy and strategy for play

B Suggested further reading 71

C Play strategies in London: Case studies 75

D Play types 78

E Play agencies and other useful sources of information 79

F Report on consultation 82

foreword by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London

Play is essential for children’s healthy development and well-being. As children grow up, the ability to meet up with friends to visit the local park, swimming pool or shops under their own steam is central to their developing competence. Being able to have fun in public spaces and participate in cultural life is one of the hallmarks of a vital and vibrant city. And London has much to offer.

Yet many parents and the wider community believe that children today have fewer opportunities to play than they did – citing fears about safety and traffic as major concerns. Run-down and depressing physical environments contribute to unequal life chances and children and young people themselves highlighted the lack of safe places to play and the lack of facilities for older children and young people as major priorities in their response to my Children and Young People’s Strategy (January 2004).

I am therefore determined that, as the regeneration of London continues apace, better provision for children’s play is a key element of local and regional planning. I will be working with key partners to develop regional standards, as further guidance to The London Plan, to ensure that all children and young people are able to play within their local neighbourhoods and have safe and attractive play spaces within walking distance of their homes.

Ken Livingstone

Mayor of London

Part 1 – The need for play strategies

1 introduction

‘A consistent theme is the importance of having communities where there is somewhere safe to go and something to do... (providing) recreational activity for children and young people... building the fabric of communities and increasing young people’s skills, confidence and self-esteem.’

Every Child Matters, Government Green Paper, September 2003

1.1 Play is essential to children’s happiness, health and development. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, gives all children the right ‘to rest and leisure; to engage in age-appropriate play and recreational activities...’. There is increasing evidence, however, that children’s play opportunities are under threat. Many children and young people, particularly in our cities, do not have the degree of freedom or access to the spaces and environments – physical and social – that they need to play. The consequences – real and potential – both for their immediate quality of life and for their long-term health and development are serious.

1.2 While the decline in play opportunities affects children generally, the impact is disproportionately greater on disabled children and those living with other forms of social or economic disadvantage, for whom access to free, safe and enjoyable play spaces is especially important.1

1.3 London is home to 1.61 million children and young people under the age of 18, with a greater share of children up to four years old than in England and Wales as a whole. The child population is projected to grow between 2001 and 2011 compared with a fall during the same period, nationally. More children in London than in England as a whole are likely to be living with only one parent and 38 per cent are living in poverty – 54 per cent in inner London – compared with 29 per cent in England. Children of black and minority ethnic communities are more likely to experience poverty than white children.2

1.4 Making London Better for All Children and Young People, the Mayor’s Children and Young People’s Strategy (January 2004), sets out the Mayor’s policy on children’s play, based on the belief that all children should be able to play within their local neighbourhoods and have safe and attractive play spaces within easy walking distance of their homes. For older children and young people, having opportunities to meet friends and to enjoy and develop their own cultural and recreational pursuits is equally important.3

1.5 The London Plan, the Mayor’s Spatial Development Strategy for Greater London (2004), sets the strategic context for planning and contains measures to protect and improve open space, including children’s play space. Supplementary planning guidance to The London Plan will cover the spatial needs of London’s diverse population, including those of children and young people.4 The plan requires boroughs to undertake an audit and assessment of open space as part of an Open Space Strategy (OSS). This guidance is designed as a companion to the Mayor’s Guide to Preparing Open Space Strategies.

1.6 Data Management and Analysis Group, GLA, identifies a projected increase in London’s child population of around 200,000 ifrom 2004-20016. Meeting the needs of the increased child population will require a similar growth in play and informal recreational provision in the capital. In response to the public consultation on the draft Play Strategy Guide, the GLA will work with key partners to develop regional benchmark standards for children’s play and leisure facilities. These standards will provide additional guidance to London boroughs, together with decisions in relation to strategic planning applications, and will be developed as further guidance to The London Plan.

1.7 The government too has recognised the need to make better provision for children’s play as a theme that cuts across a range of policy areas, from planning, open spaces and transport to health, education and childcare. Most significantly, the enjoyment of ‘recreation’, including play, is one of the key outcomes for children that authorities are required to consider in drawing up co-ordinated children and young people’s plans under the Children Act, 2004.

‘Such is the contribution that play can make to children’s lives in so many areas that the Department for Education and Skills, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Department of Health and the Home Office can [each] contribute to play through their policies. My department... is beginning to draw up a government agenda for play.’

Estelle Morris, Minister for the Arts (Department of Culture, Media and Sport)
House of Commons, January 2005

1.8 Getting Serious About Play: A review of children’s play (2004), written to advise the government on lottery funding for play, recommended that ‘authorities should take the opportunity... to improve the planning and operation of play facilities across their area... in partnership with other local agencies, children and young people and local communities...’. In spring 2005, the Big Lottery Fund announced a strategic funding programme for play provision in England to the sum of £155 million, to be based broadly on the recommendations of this review.

Purpose of the guide

1.9 The purpose of this guide is to assist the London boroughs and their partners in preparing local strategies for children’s play provision within a regional policy framework, and to take best advantage of national initiatives for the optimum benefit of London’s children and young people.

1.10 It seeks to enable the development of local play strategies to be based upon clear understandings about children’s play, leading to a focused play policy, ‘integrated with other relevant community, corporate and departmental plans’5 such as the Open Space, Green Space, Community and Cultural Strategies as well as the Children and Young People’s Plan required under the Children Act (2004).

1.11 The guide sets out the need and the basis for providing children with free and accessible spaces offering high-quality play opportunities throughout their environment. It offers good practice guidance on delivering this for all London’s children and young people through the preparation and implementation of inclusive play strategies.

1.12 The guide is not intended to be overly prescriptive, but to provide a framework, a proposed structure and some common principles for these strategic developments. It provides a toolkit of different approaches illustrated by practical examples, with some suggested processes and references.

1.13 In line with the age definition adopted in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Mayor’s Children and Young People’s Strategy, this guidance is for play strategies applying to children and young people under the age of 18. Unless a particular age group is specified, all references to either ‘children’, ‘young people’ or to ‘children and young people’ should be taken to include this full age range.

2 play and its benefits

‘The right to play is a child’s first claim on the community. Play is nature’s training for life. No community can infringe that right without doing enduring harm to the minds and bodies of its citizens.’

David Lloyd George

Defining children’s play

2.1 Although we all recognise it when we see it, play is difficult to define. The National Occupational Standards of the playwork, childcare and early years professions define play as ‘freely chosen, personally directed, intrinsically motivated behaviour that actively engages the child. It can be fun or serious... by playing, children learn and develop as individuals and as members of the community’.6

2.2 The 2004 play review uses the straightforward description of play as ‘What children and young people do when they follow their own ideas and interests in their own way and for their own reasons’.7

2.3 While the play strategy may adopt a simple definition, it is important to recognise the diversity, complexity and richness of children’s play – that is, if the strategy is to fully address the need to accommodate this. The playwork profession has identified no fewer than 15 distinct ‘play types’ which are listed and described in Appendix D.

2.4 These definitions all suggest two things: that play is instinctive, arising from children’s innate need to express themselves and explore their world; and that its benefits for children’s development derive from them choosing it and doing it for themselves. The adult role in play provision is to enable rather than to direct.

The benefits of play

Play and health

2.5 Play is essential for children’s healthy physical and emotional development. The Chief Medical Officer advises that ‘children and young people should achieve a total of at least 60 minutes of at least moderate-intensity physical activity each day’.8 There is growing research evidence that increased opportunity for free play is the most effective way to ensure this for children, and that a range of increasing health problems are associated with the decline in such opportunities. The government White Paper Choosing Health, 2004, noted that ‘many children appear to have less time being physically active... because of the increase in car use and heightened concern about the potential risks of unsupervised play outdoors...’.

Play and health

• Children and young people themselves express considerable concern about the restrictions on their independent activity9, and about the lack of provision for regular and enjoyable exercise.10

• The British Medical Journal reported in 2001 that there is ‘an obesity epidemic in young children’ and that the main solution should be to ‘reduce television viewing and promote playing’. The report identifies
that ‘opportunities for spontaneous play may be the only requirement that young children need to increase their physical activity’.11

• A study by University College London in 2004 highlighted the benefit of unstructured play to children, placing it as second only to PE in calorific intensity. It concluded that ‘walking and playing provide children with more physical activity than most other activities’.12

• The Mental Health Foundation has reported that the increasingly limited amount of time children have to play outside, or to attend supervised play projects, was a causative factor in the rise of mental ill health in young people.13

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