Our car breakdown cover provided us with a nice new car for a few days which had an ‘automatic start-stop‘ after our old car died (thank you LV=). It’s a nifty bit of technology which helps reduce car emissions, but you don’t have to buy a new car to stop idling; The first UK Clean Air Day (15th June) is the best possible time to change idle habits. (more…)
Active Streets concept was developed from “Playing Out”, which began in Bristol. We began running Active Streets following National Playday 2013, where three streets in Birmingham were closed for children to play.
Active Streets recognised that by stopping traffic on a street local residents could lead their own events to bring local communities together for children to play and much more.
Active Streets developed the support needed to run any event that brings residents together on a street. We have developed partnerships with Schools, Arts organisations, The Real Junk Food Project, a range of services in Birmingham City Council, Police and Emergency services, residents organisations and anyone interested in working with street organisers to promote community cohesion and to tackle issues important to our citizens.
As part of Jamie’s Home Schooling experience he helped us start a new community garden on Swan Corner roundabout, outside Swanshurst school.
OK, so you’re interested in playing out. What next? Well it’s remarkably easy, and following the last two years of ‘Playing out’ in Birmingham we’ve built a lot of support within the Council, across Moseley and Kings Heath, and across Birmingham. There are a few simple steps to follow, and we will support you to make sure all the correct procedures are carried out in good time.
We’re supporting streets closing between 1st of June and 9th August within Birmingham. In order to do this you’ll need to send an expression of interest by 8th May to email@example.com including:
- The road you are planning to close (and description of which part, if appropriate
- The date(s) and times you are proposing to close the street
- The street coordinator (a named contact)
- Contact details of the street coordinator, ideally including a mobile number and email, to share with other street organisers
- Any special requirements (i.e. negotiate bus diversion, unusual activities planned, specific instructions for road block etc.)
You’ll also need to deliver letters to houses affected by the your planned closure(s) by 23rd May. You can base this letter on this sample first letter. Active Parks have offered to print these, and will also confirm that your street is suitable for closure, and ask you to complete this short form.
You will then have permission from Birmingham City Council, and Active Parks will contact Amey, the council’s highways contractor, to arrange road closure at the day and time you need it.
You will need to send a second letter to your neighbours to confirm the closures – again Active Parks have offered to print these for you, based on this second letter template. All the planning is now in place, and you’re all ready to go!
We’ve supported the Moseley and Kings Heath Playing Out group to open streets for play on National Play Day with great success for the last two years and we’ll be doing that again in 2015, but what we’d really like to see is residential streets across Birmingham closing to motor traffic and opening for play on a regular basis. The exciting news is that council leaders who support our initiative have invited us to discuss how we can give Birmingham residents this power over their own streets.
We are following the lead of the Playing Out organisation in Bristol, who worked with the council there to introduce Temporary Play Street Orders that allow residents to hold one-off or regular road closures through a process that is simple and free. If the idea of street play causes you any concerns, this page is recommended reading.
If you’d like to do this on your street, then please get in touch with us. You can do this by commenting below, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. One of the great features of Playing Out is that residents come together to make it happen, so you’ll need to muster some willing helpers on your street. Take a look at playingout.net for an introduction to how Playing Out works and lots of information and resources.
Quiet residential roads and cul-de-sacs are very easy to close, and in fact residents on these kinds of streets have been known to close their roads by mutual agreement simply by placing a parked car or bin to block the open ends of the road. We’d like to make this possible for those who live on busier roads, bus routes and even A roads, so please do get in touch even if your road is ‘hard to close’; these are exactly the kind of test cases that we need to solve to make street play available to as many children, and adults, as possible across the city.
Six streets across Kings Heath and Moseley will be ‘Playing out’ on National playday, Wednesday 6th August 2014.
- Gaddesby Road 10am to 1pm
- Goldsmith Road 2pm to 6pm
- Peacock Road 10am to 1pm
- Wheelers Lane 10am to 1pm
- Woodville Road 2pm to 4pm
- Valentine Road 1pm to 3pm
Highway engineers have already confirmed 5 of the 6 will be temporarily closed to through traffic for a few hours to allow local children to play out safely in the street. Activities will take place on Wheelers Lane near Swanshurst School, but as it is an A-class road is taking longer to confirm if this will take place on the road or next to it.
The events are resident led and activities will be coordinated by street organisers, however we have been generously supported by many sponsors who have provided funding, advice and activities on the day – Children’s play activities will be provided by the Parks for Play team, Active Parks are providing multi-sports activities, there will be music-making for parents and children led by Music Shakers and Kings Heath Library will be putting on story reading sessions. See logos bottom of page for more organisations supporting us.
Playing Out is about giving children the chance to play safely near home, but also about making the streets generally safer and friendlier for everyone. We hope that residents without young children will also enjoy having the street free of traffic and will come out and join us.
The Playing Out initiative was started in Bristol in 2009 by two mothers who were keen to give their children a taste of the simple freedom of playing in the street that they had enjoyed when they were growing up. Four years on, the Playing Out initiative has expanded in Bristol to over 30 streets and is being replicated in other towns and cities across the country.
The Playing Out sessions in Kings Heath are in their second year and have been organised by a group of local residents, community groups and organisations with an interest in children’s play. Kings Heath and Moseley Playing Out Group offers advice and support to street organisers and are the people to contact with any questions you may have:
Marcus Belben Coordinator, telephone 07784302283
For more about how it went last year see video and links below:
co.uk/2013/08/street-play- spreading-across-birmingham. html
- Playing Out Call to Arms
Kings Heath Centre for Space Exploration is once again coordinating efforts to organise a series of Playing out events for National Playday on 6th August 2014. In 2014 we are looking to double the number of streets closed to traffic, open to play, from 3 last year, to more than 6 this year. Happening, as it does, two days after the centenary of the start of World War One, we will begin the day with a game of football near the war memorial on Wheelers Lane – see more here.
Our next meeting is 9:15 Thursday 22nd May Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath.
“Playing Out” is street play led by neighbours for neighbours and only publicized within the immediate streets. Residents close their road to traffic for a couple of hours, usually around the time children are coming home from school. This gives safety and freedom of movement to young and old alike, with volunteer stewards at each road closure point to redirect traffic.
Playing out is about free, unstructured play and people usually bring their own toys. Children are given the space and permission to play in the street, whilst adults have the chance to meet and get to know their neighbors better and experience a car-free street.
Here’s how it looked last year:
Ingredients for playing out:
1 residential street
4 or more stewards
neighbours and children
The Playing Out website
The streets that have expressed an interest so far are Albert Road, Bank Street, Goldsmith Road, Lewis Road, Peacock Road, Wheelers Lane, Woodville Road, Valentines Road.
Playing out is supported by Birmingham City Council (arranging Road closures, Fair Brum support), Amey (diversion signs etc), Musicmakers (short music workshops), Kings Heath Library (storytelling workshops)and Parks4Play (creative inclusive play support).
For further background information, the Birmingham Social Inclusion Process White Paper, ‘Making Birmingham an Inclusive City’, includes recommendations around developing more open spaces and developing a “Right to Play” campaign. You can download this document from the Fairbrum blog.
If you’d like to keep updated with the project, please visit or join the organisers google group mailing list. Here’s a few photos from last year:
co.uk/2013/08/street-play- spreading-across-birmingham. html