Category : Active Streets

Playing out spreading out

It’s great to be a part of the larger playing out community – in the UK, Leeds, Bristol, Hackney and a few other places are all working with their councils to make playing happen on streets.  Even though Birmingham is implementing a slightly different model from the way street play and others are organised, it’s great to learn from their example:

Playing Out is a not-for-profit national organisation providing free resources and advice for residents about enabling street play. As well as instructional videos and a step-by-step ‘manual for organisers’, you can download template posters and other materials or contact them directly for advice.

They provide a free source of inspiration and advice for residents who want to close their streets and also have a national (closed) Facebook group for residents to discuss issues and to inspire each other.  We also encourage Birmingham folk to join our Facebook groups, or start your own for mutual support – KHMPlayingOut for Kings Heath & Moseley and Active Streets for all of Birmingham.

Daniella Radice from Playing out

Daniella Radice from Playing out

There’s a mailing list for officers setting up play streets or thinking about setting up play streets across the UK, and Active Streets will be sending to Birmingham Street Organisers a newsletter from other street organisers across the UK.  We’re also supported by Daniella Radice, whose role is to grow the street play movement across the UK over the next two years and is keen to find as many ways as she can to support people who are implementing it.

“I am looking forward to working with existing activators and residents as well as enthusing lots of new people to join our movement. I will be working with local authorities to help them make street play possible in their areas, and am keen to talk to any particularly helpful council officers that you might know. I would also love to talk to you about your experiences, and hear your ideas.”

Website: email: Tel: 0117 9537167

17th May 2017  |  Marcus Belben

Co-constructors of healthy habits

Obesity in the UK govt statistics 2015

Obesity in young people and children is on the rise – it’s widespread, growing and the consequences are costly.  The solutions themselves are pretty straight forward (improved diet, exercise etc) so why is it health professionals seem powerless to get their message through, and could social media help?


12th May 2017  |  Marcus Belben

Reasons to stop idling

Schools in America have partnered with Kern Green for the Just Say No to Idling Campaign.

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…)

10th May 2017  |  Marcus Belben

Four Years of Playing Out in Birmingham

Olga from ActiveStreets with Councillor Tony Kennedy and support from WM Police setting up on Main Street, Sparkbrook

Olga from ActiveStreets with Councillor Tony Kennedy and support from KIKIT & WM Police setting up on Main Street, Sparkbrook

When a new street becomes an ActiveStreet, Playing Out for the first time like Main Street in Sparkbrook, it’s hard not to get excited.   (more…)

20th April 2017  |  Marcus Belben

Active Streets early beginnings

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.

11th April 2017  |  Marcus Belben

Making changes on Main Street

IMG_20170403_175612You could guess what problems there are on Main Street in Sparkbrook, but the only way to understand them is to meet the people who live there.  And how to make things better?  Active Streets and KIKIT are working together to support residents. (more…)

4th April 2017  |  Marcus Belben

Taking litter picking to the next level

It all started on Swan Corner when Oz, the Neighbourhood watch man thought we could do something about it.  He provided the pickers and the bags in 2015, and now we do it every year – next one for Swan Corner is 10:30 on 8th April meet corner of Cold Bath and Brook Lane . (more…)

30th March 2017  |  Marcus Belben

Why have a Community Garden on a Roundabout?

Getting Organised for Playing Out

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 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!

15th April 2015  |  John Hill-Daniel

Who’s coming out to play?

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 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 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.

11th March 2015  |  John Hill-Daniel