Foreword by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London VI

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Play and the environment

‘Children are losing their connection with the natural environment and their well-being and environmental quality are inextricably linked. The worse a local environment looks, the less able children are to play freely...’

A Child’s Place – why environment matters to children, Green Alliance/Demos, 2004

2.6 A research report by Demos and the Green Alliance14 has found that there is a big gap between children from rural and urban backgrounds in their level of access to natural environments and that this is detrimental to city children. Among the report’s key recommendations was that children from disadvantaged backgrounds should be provided with more and better opportunities to good quality open space and its design. The environmental charity Groundwork reports that community-based play activities can ensure optimum use of such space, contributing to the environmental awareness of local children.

Barriers to play

‘The overwhelming cry from both parents and young people is around the lack of activities and facilities... the thing they say would most improve family life is the provision of places to go and things to do... where they can spend their leisure time with their friends.’

Margaret Hodge, Minister for Children and Families, January 2005

2.7 Children and young people commonly identify many barriers to play, recreation and their enjoyment of public space.15 These include: fears for their safety, especially from bullying; traffic; dirty, boring or run-down play areas and parks; lack of choice; and lack of access.

2.8 Parents and the wider community strongly believe that children today have fewer opportunities to play than they did as children, and are spending too much time watching television or using computers. This is a serious concern for many adults. A 2001 MORI poll cited activities for teenagers as people’s top priority for local improvement, ahead of crime reduction, road repairs and better transport. More and better facilities for younger children was next.16

2.9 Studies show dramatic decreases in children’s independent mobility, a major factor in their access to play opportunities. For example, the proportion of seven and eight-year-olds walking unaccompanied to school fell from 80 per cent in 1971 to nine per cent in 1990.17 While fear of ‘stranger danger’ is often cited as a major reason, other studies have shown that traffic is the more significant factor. One study demonstrated that, where traffic is slower, parents allow their children to play outdoors in much greater numbers than in similar streets where it is faster. The same study concluded that fear of abduction was more of an effect of children not being allowed to play outdoors than its cause.18

2.10 Research in Zurich compared children aged five who could play outdoors by their own homes, with those who could not. It found that where they could play outdoors, the children and their parents had more friends and the parents had three times as many people they could call on to look after their children. The children who could not play outdoors had less physical and social development and were less autonomous.19

2.11 Children and young people themselves talk about being prevented from playing out in public. In the 2003 Playday Survey20 of seven to 16-year-olds, two-thirds said they like to play outside daily, mostly to meet friends, but:

• four in five said they had been told off for playing outdoors

• half said they had been shouted at for playing outdoors

• one in three aged seven to 11 said being told off stopped them playing outdoors

• 11-year-olds said they were told off more than any other age group.

Inequalities and social exclusion

‘Inclusive play provision is open and accessible to all and takes positive action in removing disabling barriers so that disabled children and
non-disabled children can participate.’

Alison John, for Kidsactive and the Better Play Awards

2.12 For disabled children, negative attitudes and inaccessible physical environments compound the general problems experienced by most children, creating enormous social and physical barriers to the enjoyment of their right to play independently. In London, as across the UK as a whole, there is evidence that disabled children do not enjoy equality of access to play and leisure activities. A recent survey of 1,000 parents of disabled children demonstrated how their children were excluded from ordinary leisure opportunities. Parks and playgrounds were the least user-friendly, with few facilities for disabled people.21

2.13 Research has shown that certain minority ethnic groups are disproportionately excluded from play provision. For example, Asian children – and girls in particular – are widely discouraged from attending mainstream play services owing to a range of cultural and ethnic pressures, including overt and implicit racism.22

2.14 Enjoyment of the public realm is significantly compromised for many black and ethnic minority children. There were more than 20,000 race-related incidents and 18,000 racial offences in London in 2001.23 A survey of 3,000 young Londoners24 found that many children and young people have had experiences of racist abuse and bullying and that this inhibits their enjoyment of open space.

2.15 There are around 4,000 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people in London and many more with families.25 Many of them experience a lack of respect and overt discrimination in public spaces.26

Anti-social behaviour

2.16 Groups of children or young people ‘hanging out’ in the public domain are often characterised as posing a threat or a nuisance, even when they are simply enjoying being together. Many children and young people complain that they do not have access to space that is theirs, or which they are welcome to share with adults, and that they are consequently scapegoated.

2.17 Anticipating the Youth Green Paper expected in Spring 2005, Margaret Hodge, Minister for Children and Families, has said ‘if we want young people to flourish and if we want to divert [them] from anti-social behaviour, thinking about what the community can provide really counts. Some adults perceive teenagers on the streets as a problem and teenagers want safe spaces to hang out. Surely we must somehow be able to square that circle’.27

2.18 A report by Groundwork for the Urban Green Spaces Taskforce, 2002, said ‘Young people are often represented as the perpetrators of crime, and yet it is clear that in terms of parks and green spaces they see themselves as the victims. They suffer anti-social behaviour in the form of bullying from other age groups but also on the part of adults – ranging from the possibility of attack in unlit areas to adults allowing their dogs to roam loose in children’s areas. Contrary to expectations, young people are also very concerned about issues of maintenance in parks and green spaces.’

2.19 Research commissioned by CABE Space shows that ‘place making’ – improving the design, maintenance and supervision of parks and other public spaces – is a more effective solution to anti-social behaviour than simply increasing security measures.28

3 play provision

‘Young people want to play and spend time outside and it is important that we provide suitable spaces for them. Alongside learning more about themselves and each other, play facilities will help keep children fit and healthy, help tackle the growing issue of obesity and provide parents with places where they are happy to let their children spend their free time.’

Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, 2002

When and where children play

3.1 Half of all days in the year are weekends or school holidays, when, given the opportunity, children will play outdoors for many hours. If given the opportunity they also play before, after and on the way to school.

3.2 Research shows that children, especially those with special educational needs, benefit from the space and the opportunity to play during the school day.29 The school curriculum is not within the scope of this guide, but the play strategy should address the use of school grounds and attempt to engage the education authority and schools’ communities. The school grounds charity Learning through Landscapes offers a guide to writing a school play policy30 and this is recommended for adoption and promotion as part of the strategy’s implementation plan.

3.3 Children’s out-of-school play spaces are nearly always where they can see and be seen by a trusted adult. In most instances this adult will be a parent, carer or that of a friend. It may also be a playworker or someone without direct responsibility, such as a park keeper or neighbourhood warden. This explains why putting children and their playgrounds ‘out of sight and out of mind’ leads to facilities that are little used and often vandalised.

3.4 Research has shown that children like their play space to be visible and readily accessible, to be the heart of the communities and the environments with which they are familiar and where they feel socially secure. However, they also like the option of accessing or creating special and ‘secret’ spaces: dens and hideaways. Successful play places will take account of children’s need to see and be seen without compromising the need for a rich and varied environment.31 Play spaces that do not comply with these criteria are generally used by fewer children and are more vulnerable to vandalism.

3.5 Children instinctively like to be within the heart of their neighbourhoods. They tend to play where there is a high probability that they will meet friends and other members of the community. This is why they often congregate in front of shops, on street corners and in other well-used public spaces. All children depend upon the suitability of these environments to be able to play. If not on the roads and pavements themselves, they certainly depend on these being safe routes to spaces where they can play. Strategies that attempt to simply corral children into ‘safe places’ are not likely to succeed32 and the play strategy should seek to minimise the threat of traffic and other perceived dangers to children playing outdoors.

3.6 Many children, but by no means all, have opportunities to visit dedicated, unsupervised play spaces: playgrounds with appropriate equipment and landscaping. These can be successful if they meet the various criteria and at least some of the objectives for good provision, but can be underused, neglected and vandalised if they do not.

3.7 Destination or ‘showcase’ parks are sometimes seen as the solution to the need for more play provision, and the popularity of large town parks with quality equipment is clear. However, research analysis demonstrates that the majority of users of such facilities are on a family visit, and that they do not meet the everyday play needs of more than small numbers of local children.33

3.8 Childcare facilities have developed significantly in recent years to meet the needs of working parents. Good quality childcare provision will incorporate opportunities for play for those registered to attend. It is important to ensure that childcare provision is not expanded at the expense of open access play services to the detriment of children of
non-working parents.

Good play provision?

3.9 Neither the identification of children’s need for play, the definitions of play itself, nor the description of its objectives, actually tell us what constitutes good play provision. What they do tell us is that play is about much more than swings and roundabouts in the park. Fixed equipment playgrounds have their place but the strategy should take a much broader view of where and how often children need access to the space and opportunity to run, climb, skip, hide, play with ropes, jump, practise cartwheels, throw and kick balls, make friends, fall out, build fires, grow things, tell stories, climb trees, take risks, get wet, explore nature, build dens, get dirty, dress up, keep animals, dig holes, swing on tyres, shout, fight, invent games, make things, paint pictures, talk with their friends or just sit.

3.10 A play strategy is a strategy for allowing children to be children, wherever they are. The strategy should challenge the presumption that a certain number of prescribed, fenced-off areas with a quota of manufactured equipment is a sufficient response and engage in creating the widest range of play opportunities and spaces, from dedicated, supervised provision to play-friendly streets, parks and open spaces.

3.11 A good play strategy will address all these issues by developing more and better play spaces and opportunities, a more child-friendly public realm and greater recognition of the importance of play across the range of policy areas that have an influence on children’s lives. By engaging children and young people themselves in the process, the play strategy can engender community cohesion and a sense of shared ownership and responsibility for sustainable public space. It can help to cultivate a young population that identifies with, and feels a sense of belonging to, its physical, social and natural environment.

The objectives of play provision

Best Play (2000) is a widely recognised benchmark document describing the outcome objectives for play provision.

According to Best Play, good play provision:

• extends the choice and control that children have over their play, the freedom they enjoy and the satisfaction they gain from it

• recognises the child’s need to test boundaries and responds positively to that need

• manages the balance between the need to offer risk and the need to keep children safe from harm

• maximises the range of play opportunities

• fosters independence and healthy self-esteem

• fosters the child’s respect for others and offers opportunities for social interaction

• fosters the child’s well-being, healthy growth and development, knowledge and understanding, creativity and capacity to learn.

From Best Play: What play provision should do for children, Children’s Play Council, National Playing Fields and PLAYLINK, 2000

3.12 An essential feature of the play strategy is that it promotes inclusion and access for disabled children. Inclusive principles and good practice should be an integral part of the document but also highlighted as distinct areas for action to ensure, as a minimum, compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act.

3.13 Consultation exercises regularly find that parents want ‘a safe place for my children to play’. This is often interpreted as referring to the safety of equipment. However, when asked, parents often complain that play equipment is not exciting enough and that children have grown out of it by the time they are seven or eight.34 Parents want somewhere where they feel that their children are socially safe (to ‘see and be seen’) but know that, physically, they want and need excitement and challenges from their play.34

Design and cost

3.14 Imaginative, well-designed and well-equipped play space can sometimes be perceived as an expensive add-on when considering budgetary priorities. Following the principles and processes set out, however, good quality play provision, developed strategically and managed properly, should represent best value over time as a valuable community asset. The engagement of designers, landscape architects and community artists in the creation and development of play spaces and the wider public realm can add much value to both the process and the provision for children.35

Human resources

3.15 A good play strategy will include the development of a range of supervised and unsupervised provision, from child-friendly design of the public realm to properly staffed adventure playgrounds and after-school clubs. Resources will need to be identified for the recruitment, training and development of a skilled workforce: playworkers, play development and outreach workers, structure builders and site managers. Participation workers will also be needed. Skillsactive, the Sector Skills Council for the play sector, has information about the training and qualifications framework for playwork and has a three-year strategy, Quality Training, Quality Play, for playwork education and training ( For boroughs aiming to develop a range of supervised provision, a workforce development plan, making reference to this national framework should be an integral part of the play strategy’s implementation. This is particularly important where there is a deficiency in open spaces.

4 the policy context for play

‘We recognise that play can impact positively on a range of issues and we will continue to... ensure that it is recognised as having an important contribution to the Change for Children Programme, the Physical Activity Plan and the Cleaner, Safer, Greener agenda. We will be considering how to take forward a more strategic, cross-departmental policy for play.’

Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, 2005

The Play Review

4.1 Getting Serious About Play – a review of children’s play (2004) made the key recommendation that ‘the local authority or a local partnership should be responsible for drawing up proposals... prepared in partnership with other local agencies, children and young people and local communities’.
A fuller summary of the recommendations of the Play Review is set out on page 57.

Every Child Matters and Change for Children

4.2 The government’s Every Child Matters framework and Change for Children programme ( identify the enjoyment of recreation, including play, as a key outcome for children and young people to be considered in the preparation and implementation of Children and Young People’s plans under the Children Act (2004).

The National Childcare Strategy

4.3 The Extended Schools Initiative – part of the National Childcare Strategy to offer ‘wrap-around care’ for all children up to age 14 – is to look at opening school grounds and premises for out-of-school activities, including children’s play. These are expected, as a priority, to provide leisure facilities for all children in a locality, including disabled children, and not only for those who go to a specific school.36

4.4 Early years development and childcare partnerships have been encouraged by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) to promote play as an integral part of childcare plans. Government guidance to the partnerships sets out a range of measures to ensure the quality of play opportunities within childcare provision, stating that ‘partnerships have a crucial role in the promotion and development of good quality play opportunities’.

4.5 Supervised provision that is open to children under eight must be registered with Ofsted under the National Standards for out-of-school care. Under the standards, open access playgrounds or playschemes have alternative criteria to those that apply to childcare, and these are set out in Appendix A of Out of School Care: Guidance to the National Standards. PLAYLINK has published a valuable guide: Open for Play – the National Daycare Standards in open access play provision.

Summary of government guidance on play within childcare

• Children need opportunities to play in different ways at different times.

• Children need safe play spaces where they can be physically active as well as quiet and still.

• Childcare staff and playworkers can enrich and enhance children’s play.

• Children’s play needs may differ depending on their age, ability, culture and circumstances.

Good Practice Guidance for Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships, No 13, DfES (2001)


4.6 The development of the play strategy should reflect the new focus on liveability, emphasising the role of play space in regeneration, neighbourhood renewal and in delivering the Cleaner, Safer, Greener urban renaissance called for by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM).

Planning policy

4.7 Planning Policy Guidance Note 17, Open Space, Sport and Recreation (PPG 17) aims to safeguard open spaces and playing fields. It was revised in 2002 to become much more focused on assessing the need for different types of open space, rather than – as in the previous guidance – merely setting quantitative standards. This is the national context for the play space and open space aspects of a play strategy. At the same time, new legislation was introduced to lower the threshold (from 0.4ha to 0.2ha) above which local planning authorities are required to consult Sport England about developments affecting playing fields, with objections referred to the ODPM.

London policy context

4.8 The London Plan, the Mayor’s Spatial Development Strategy for London (2004), sets out the spatial planning framework for London for the next 15 to 20 years. It contains a number of policies in respect of London’s open spaces, including:

• realising the value of open space to communities and to protect its many benefits, including those associated with play and recreation

• requiring the London boroughs to produce open space strategies that include an audit of existing provision and an assessment of needs

• protecting locally important open space

• creating new open spaces where there is inadequate provision

• promoting improvements in existing provision

• ensuring that everyone has equal access to and can use London’s open spaces.

The Mayor has made a commitment in The London Plan to develop Supplementary Planning Guidance on the spatial needs of London’s diverse population, which will include children and young people.

4.9 Making London Better for All Children and Young People, the Mayor’s Children and Young People’s Strategy (2004), sets out the Mayor’s vision for developing London as a ‘genuinely child-friendly city’ where ‘children are seen and heard’. It contains specific policy commitments and action points about children’s play and young people’s leisure. A Children and Young People’s Unit has been set up within the Mayor’s Office to ensure delivery, implementation and monitoring of its objectives.

4.10 The Mayor’s Transport Strategy also includes proposals for 20mph restrictions and safe routes to schools and play areas. Transport for London’s Children and Young People’s Action Plan will aim to influence the boroughs’ transport spending plans to ensure that they fully take into account the provision of safe and accessible transport for children and young people.

4.11 The Mayor’s Walking Plan for London (2004) has been produced as an integral part of the Mayor’s sustainable transport strategy. It aims to promote walking as the most environmentally friendly mode of transport by making it an ‘attractive, safe and convenient mode of travel for everyone’. It includes the increased introduction of Home Zones, where pedestrian and community needs are placed ahead of traffic considerations.

4.12 Making Space for Londoners is an initiative of the GLA’s Architecture and Urbanism Unit aiming to create or upgrade 100 public spaces in London during the next five years. The strategy outlines ten initial pilot projects to highlight how to achieve the best quality for public spaces.

4.13 The Mayor’s Culture Strategy (2004) promotes the cultural benefits of open space as an important cultural resource and recognises children’s play as a distinct cultural activity for inclusion in local cultural strategies.

4.14 The Mayor’s London Childcare Strategy (2003) was launched in response to the government’s National Childcare Strategy and contains a range of strategic proposals that the Mayor will implement in order to increase the availability of affordable childcare in London.

Local policy context

4.15 Unitary Development Plans (UDPs), leading to Local Development Frameworks (LDFs), provide the framework for decisions on the nature and location of new developments within London and are therefore an extremely important vehicle for shaping the physical and spatial environments for children’s play. In preparing UDPs and LDFs, boroughs are required to have regard to the relevant policies and themes set out in The London Plan, which include protecting and developing open space for community use, including children’s play. LDFs will contain Statements of Community Involvement (SCIs), which should therefore include reference to the involvement of the voluntary and community sectors, including parents/carers, children and young people and play agencies in the strategic planning process.

4.16 Open Space Strategies (OSS) should develop detailed policies and objectives for open space based on an assessment of existing provision and the needs of the local community. The strategy should inform other local authority strategies and plans including the UDP. The Guide to Preparing Open Space Strategies (London Plan Best Practice Guidance, 2004) gives practical advice to London boroughs on the preparation of an OSS. It is a companion to this guide.

Play and the cultural and community strategies

4.17 As well as sitting alongside the OSS, there should be a clear link between the play, cultural and community strategies. The Local Government Act (2000) requires authorities to develop Community Strategies through a Local Strategic Partnership, aimed at improving the economic, social and environmental well-being through sustainable development. It co-ordinates the actions of the council, and of the public, private, voluntary and community organisations that operate locally.

4.18 A cultural strategy may form part of the community strategy. A government funded report on the role of play in cultural strategies37 states: ‘In developing the vision, aims and objectives of their cultural strategies, local authorities should bear in mind that: play is an essential aspect of children’s culture and quality of life; children’s play is an initiation into a wider cultural life; and that play and culture share the characteristic of being intrinsically worthwhile’.

‘The culture of childhood has play at its heart. By recognising this and fully incorporating play provision into Local Cultural Strategies, local authorities will be extending the enhanced quality of life... to children, whose voices too often go unheard...’

Richard Caborn, Minister for Sport, from Play as Culture,
PLAYLINK and the Children’s Play Policy Forum, 2002

Children and Young People’s Plan

4.19 From April 2006 local authorities will be required to produce a Children and Young People’s Plan (CYPP) which sets out the local vision for children and young people, a strategic analysis showing how key outcomes will be achieved, and the actions, timescales and costs involved. It links upwards to the community strategy and downwards to other local plans and strategies, including the play strategy, to integrate the delivery of all services for children and young people in the area.

Play and best value

4.20 Boroughs are required to undertake best value reviews of all their services. (Note the Audit Commission Proposal for Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) from 2005 outlines proposed changes to the CPA methodology. See for further details.)

Many authorities will find that some of the information they need to start preparing a children’s play strategy has already been gathered as part of a previous best value review. Conversely, the audit, consultation and analysis stages of the play strategy development will prove useful to future reviews.

Example: Best value and play

The London Borough of Southwark’s best value review determined that the council should ‘implement a cross-cutting review of play areas’.

The target outcome was to jointly commission a review of play areas to
be funded by the parks department budget, and ultimately linked to the production of the Open Spaces Strategy. Contributions to the review
were to come from planning, housing and play services, with external contributions from Sport England, the National Playing Fields Association (NPFA) and the London Parks and Green Spaces Forum.

4.21 The Audit Commission identifies the development, adoption and implementation of an appropriate play policy and strategy by the local authority as a Best Value Performance Indicator in the Strategic Objective/Quality of Life category. This indicator, PI 115, is reproduced in full in Appendix A as it represents a good overview of the purpose and position of a play policy and strategy as well as a tool for assessing its progress and effect. Note, however, that this type of indicator does not evaluate provision and should not replace the need to establish benchmarks and measures of quality.

5 the purpose and scope of the play strategy

5.1 The purpose of preparing and implementing a play strategy is to enable the borough and its partners to establish clear policies on play as the basis for a range of activities that will create and improve access and opportunity for all its children and young people to enjoy a range of quality play and recreation opportunities. In so doing it will also contribute to achieving the Every Child Matters outcomes for children: being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution, and achieving economic well-being.

5.2 The play strategy should convey a vision of what the council wants to achieve, setting out aims, objectives and broad policies. It should be based on an understanding of the supply, distribution, quality and level of use of current provision and the present and future needs of children and young people. It should be placed within the wider borough, sub-regional and London context. An action plan or delivery mechanism with clear and identifiable milestones should be developed as a key component that focuses on the implementation of the strategy.

5.3 It will expand the areas of the public realm where all children and young people feel safe and welcomed. It should seek to improve the quality of life for the whole community by engaging with its young people to challenge negative perceptions and engender shared ownership of – and responsibility for – open space and the built environment.

5.4 It will better enable the borough to consider the needs of children, young people and their families across a range of policy and strategy areas, adding value to existing and forthcoming developments and initiatives and enabling the acquisition of new investment for the benefit of the whole community.

5.5 It should seek in particular to meet the needs of the children and young people of local communities, including groups that have traditionally suffered exclusion, such as disabled children and young people, those from minority ethnic or refugee communities, girls and young women, looked-after children and young people, and those at risk from social exclusion.

Strategic benefits

5.6 The strategic benefits of preparing and implementing a play
strategy include:

• bringing together a range of issues, disciplines and interests to promote closer inter-departmental, inter-authority, cross-sectoral and community relationships around the key theme of children and young people’s enjoyment of inclusive play and recreation

• providing the evidence base, building the strategic partnerships and developing the plans to support funding applications to a wide range of potential funders, including the Big Lottery Fund

• complying with relevant legislations including the Children Act 2004 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995

• helping to meet the requirements for assessments and audits for open spaces contained in Planning Policy Guidance 17 (PPG 17): Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation (July 2002)

• promoting a more holistic view of play space provision, distribution and quality

• providing the basis for a consistent approach that contributes to a strategic overview within current priorities

• identifying areas of play space deficiency, gaps in types of provision and the need for improvements

• assisting in the identification of priorities, and in planning for improvements or the creation of new play spaces or services

• enabling better management of assets

• highlighting issues of quantity, quality and accessibility

• maximising budgets through Section 106 agreements for play space

• maximising the effectiveness of budgets through strategically targeted expenditure based on need assessment

• assisting in development plan review, development control, decision making and the negotiation of developer agreements

• contributing to best value reviews (see earlier comment about this, paragraph 4.20) and other corporate strategies

• promoting partnership working, social inclusion and community involvement.


5.7 Play is an important aspect of many areas in children’s lives and needs consideration within environments and different spheres of local authority activity. Children need access to dedicated play space but also to child-friendly neighbourhood environments, green and open spaces. The play strategy should assess and analyse not just the quantity, quality and current usage of existing play spaces and facilities but the current accessibility of the public realm against the needs and wishes of local children and young people, taking into account issues of gender, ethnicity, disability and sexuality.

5.8 There needs to be a close strategic fit between the Children and Young People’s Plan, the Open Space Strategy and the Unitary Development Plan/Local Development Framework, and the Play Strategy. The Local Strategic Partnership has a central role in ensuring that this happens. Play spaces and play provision should not be viewed in isolation or as the sole responsibility of a single service area, but as a corporate priority reflected across a range of developments such as neighbourhood renewal and regeneration programmes. The range of partners involved in the play strategy’s development should reflect this cross-cutting approach.

5.9 As well as a broad range of local authority activities, the play strategy will also be significant to, and need the involvement of, a range of other stakeholders from the community. These must include children and young people of all ages and backgrounds, their parents and carers, and ensure that children living away from their birth parents, or in care, and young carers are involved. If necessary, specialists with relevant communication and other skills need to be employed to hear from the whole diversity of children (see box below). It is important that these groups, many of whom will have useful information and expertise, should be consulted and fully involved.

5.10 Much data will be available as part of preparing a borough’s OSS and there will be benefits to integrating the development of the two documents so that the collection and use of data is maximised and duplication avoided. There will, however, be important differences. Those preparing the play strategy should be enquiring into the extent that children play outdoors (and identifying barriers to playing outdoors) and the level of opportunity for challenge and variety, rather than simply the extent of play facilities. The strategy should assess and analyse where and how children are playing and identify where they are not. It should assess what modifications need to be made to existing open spaces and playgrounds against current and future need. It should also assess and analyse the quantity, quality and accessibility of supervised play opportunities.

Stakeholders in the development of a play strategy

Children and young people are the main stakeholders and careful consideration of the nature and extent of their involvement, and the resources required, should be made throughout the process. The cross-cutting nature of play provision means that the widest range of local authority activities and community groups should be involved to ensure representation of the community, in particular children and young people. This would include:

Local authority departments

• Children and young people’s directorate

play services, schools, children’s centres, children’s services, education, social services, early years and childcare partnerships and children and young people’s participation and consultation teams/officers

• Highways, traffic and transport

• Housing

• Planning, development and regeneration

• Leisure and recreation

• Environment

• Parks and open spaces

• Youth provision

• Insurance section

• Human resources departments

Local play champions – this may be a local councillor

Community groups and external partners

• Children and young people

• Parents/carers

• Play associations

• Disability organisations

• Local environmental groups

• Housing associations

• Tenants associations

• Amenity interests and ‘friends’ groups

• Black and minority ethnic community groups

• Children’s charities

• Faith groups

Partnerships and other statutory agencies

• Local strategic partnerships

• Cultural groups

• Children’s trusts

• Children’s fund boards

• Primary care trusts

• Police

• Sure Start services

• Strategic health authorities – children’s leads

• Primary care trusts – public health

• Housing associations

Main objectives

5.11 The main objectives of the play strategy should be to:

• protect and improve play space and play provision in terms of quality, quantity, accessibility and safety

• ensure that play space and play provision is inclusive and meets the needs of all local children and young people

• promote greater social inclusion

• develop a balance between supervised and unsupervised provision according to local need

• ensure that play spaces enhance the quality of the local environment for children and young people

• improve the public realm as a child-friendly environment

• provide a clear framework for investment priorities, action and workforce development

• make clear links to other relevant strategies and plans in the borough.

5.12 It is recommended that the preparation of the play strategy should be based on the following general principles, which develop the main objectives outlined above:

meaningful participation of children and young people in the whole process, right from the start, to ensure relevance and ownership

establishment of a clear vision and policy framework

shared understanding and adoption of the principles of play as a child’s right and essential to their healthy development

shared understanding of the principles of inclusion and the social model of disability

understanding the play needs and aspirations of local children and young people

formation of collaborative and enabling partnerships


understanding of risk and safety issues in relation to children’s play

quality, long-term design principles

sustainable management and maintenance arrangements

understanding and promotion of the recognised objectives of good play provision

inclusive and accessible design principles.


5.13 A play strategy may take anything from eight to 18 months or longer to produce, depending on a number of factors, not least the existence or not of relevant data and the current state of the authority’s open and green space strategies. The timetable should take into account potential constraints or milestones such as best value reviews (see earlier comments about BVRs) and council elections. Some key issues determining the timing of the process will be:

• internal resources and funding

• the role of external consultants

• the involvement of voluntary and community groups

• involvement of children and young people, taking account of term times and school holidays

• production/review of related policies and strategies.

5.14 The times and the duration suggested for different tasks is a rough guide only and will depend upon key stakeholders’ and officers’ other commitments, the resources available and other variables. This suggested timetable is illustrative of the general scale of the project.

Stage Process Substantive time Duration

(days) (months)

1 Preparation/scoping 2–4 1–2

2 Review 9-12 1–6

3 Identifying, mapping and 8–15 2–3

auditing current provision

4 Consultation 8–10 2–3

5 Analysis 3–5 1–2

6 Preparation of strategy and action plan 6–9 2–6

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Foreword by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London VI iconForeword by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London

Foreword by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London VI iconForeword by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London

Foreword by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London VI iconMayor’s foreword 5Executive summary 7Introduction 17 1 Maintaining London’s position 33as a world city for culture

Foreword by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London VI iconGlaeconomics laying the foundations London’s construction industry February 2006 Transport for London London Development Agency Mayor of London Greater London Authority

Foreword by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London VI iconThis is London’s Economic Development Strategy, prepared by the London Development Agency (lda) on behalf of the Mayor of London. It replaces the 2001 Strategy

Foreword by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London VI icon1. 1 The London 2012 Directorate supports the Mayor in delivering his responsibilities and priorities with respect to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic

Foreword by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London VI iconMayor of london

Foreword by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London VI iconThe Mayor of London’s Annual Report

Foreword by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London VI iconThe Mayor’s Outer London Commission: Report

Foreword by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London VI iconLondon Assembly mqt – 23 May 2012 1st Mayor’s Report to the Assembly

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