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Palmers Green is to be the trailblazer for a project which will return to children some of the independence that has been taken away from them in recent years.

play quarter project enfield logoLondon's first Play Quarter will build on the existing Play Street schemes in and around Palmers Green - in Devonshire Road, Old Park Road, New River Crescent, Riverside, The Mall and Orpington Road.  Those streets are now not only home to more active, happy children with new friends next door, but they have also become friendlier, safer places where people have got to know their neighbours.

The project is being run by the award-winning charity London Play.  For them Palmers Green was an obvious place to launch this next phase of their child-friendly agenda - it already has the highest concentration of play streets in London.

In the words of Paul Hocker, Development Director at London Play:  "Where residents in a street have come together and worked with us to set up a Play Street they’ve inevitably found great benefits, and not just for their kids. Now we want to bring that better community feel to more people while maintaining our focus on London’s children. Palmers Green seemed the perfect place to start.”  

children in palmers green enjoying a play street sessionChildren enjoying a play street session in Palmers Green

While a Play Street involves closing a street to through traffic for a few hours, the purpose of the Play Quarter concept is to build a permanent awareness of children and their crucial part in all our communities.

To do this Play London will be using a variety of methods, which they say will be simple and unobtrusive:

  • "Joining up" existing play streets and helping set up new ones
  • Creating a schedule of doorstep play sessions where children can play with their friends and neighbours can get to know each other
  • Setting up Walk Groups so that children can get to the park safely at the weekend
  • Encouraging schools to introduce play street sessions at the start and end of the school day
  • Working with schools to reduce school run traffic
  • Developing a smartphone app mapping out local play streets, safe walking routes and supportive retailers
  • Working with Play Quarter Partners - local retailers and food outlets - to create a discount scheme for healthy eating options.

london play plus big lottery fund icons

Children have not changed

Children have not changed - their innate desire to play and make friends through play remains the same as it was 50 years ago. But the reality is that on an average day, most children play outside for less than 30 minutes – and one in five children does not play outside at all. This suggests that across Enfield almost seventeen thousand children do not play out. Children are spending twice as long inside on screens as they are playing outside.

Their innate desire to play is curtailed by many things including the built environment, and – perhaps more obstructively – by adult attitudes based on belief that the places where we live are not safe for children to experience independently.

It will, for some, take a leap of faith, perhaps a reflection upon the freedoms of their own childhood, to support the changes we all need to make to give children back some much needed independence in their childhoods. One of the big changes is to move from the idea that other people’s children have little to do with us, to an understanding that they have everything to do with us. An investment in them is an investment in London’s future, as they will inherit this city and become our future nurses, entrepreneurs, fire fighters, neighbours and teachers.

The Palmers Green Play Quarter will be launched in the New Year.  London Play are currently recruiting a part-time Play Quarters Project Worker - the deadline for submitting applications is Monday 24th October.

For background into the importance of play and how it is affected by the quality of the built environment, see the following two papers, both written for the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Day of General Discussion, 2016:

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PGC Webmaster's Avatar
PGC Webmaster posted a reply #2340 20 Oct 2016 11:41
There's an article about the Palmers Green Play Quarter on New Start, the online Magazine for Making Better Places.

Karl Brown's Avatar
Karl Brown posted a reply #2415 15 Nov 2016 09:05
The Council have outlined the new cycle to agree Play Street dates. To help control costs they are seeking that all streets apply by the end of the year (31st December) for Play Street dates in the following budget year (April 2017 to March 2018). This means that cost items such as associated Traffic Orders can be managed as a single item and also allows time for the necessary administration and approval processes.
Late submitting streets may not benefit from free approvals.

Existing Play Streets have good experiences, both for the children and in forming stronger neighbourhood bonds between all residents with intangible spin offs such as more social activities and informal “neighbourhood watch”.

The process is straightforward, ideally requiring two or three households to get together to push it forward. Details on the Council website or via London Play. Help can be found from several local contacts or social media such as Devonshire Road Facebook, the boroughs first play Street.
Karl Brown's Avatar
Karl Brown posted a reply #2456 25 Nov 2016 16:10
Mayor Khan has commented on the Play Street / Play Quarter initiative. It is very positive. He comments, “

I am very supportive of the Play Streets initiative.
I am also keen to encourage Londoners to see their streets differently, and an important part of my Healthy Streets work will be to reassert the priority of people, rather than private vehicles, on the local streets where people spent much of their time.
The Play Quarters pilot sounds like an interesting development of the Play Streets concept, and I will ask TfL to look into the results of the pilot.”

Details of his Healthy Streets initiative are contained in the document, “A City for All” which was highlighted in a PGC web site post on 9th November and which has a linked consultation open until 11th December. It will inform the next London Plan. Reasserting the priority of people on residential streets over vehicles will be a significant change for Palmers Green. With the Fox Lane Area Quieter Neighbourhoods work seemingly due to restart, the Mayors intent should be noted by relevant Council Officers and Councillors.
Paul Mandel's Avatar
Paul Mandel posted a reply #2458 25 Nov 2016 23:19
Could someone point me in the direction of the "A City for All " "consultation" because all I have been able to find is a comment board for mainly Guardian readers, rather like this forum.
Basil Clarke's Avatar
Basil Clarke posted a reply #2459 26 Nov 2016 00:13

Paul Mandel wrote: Could someone point me in the direction of the "A City for All " "consultation" because all I have been able to find is a comment board for mainly Guardian readers, rather like this forum.

It doesn't seem that at this stage there's a formal consultation with particular questions to answer. People are invited to join in the London Talk forum (which is a standing feature of the Mayor's website) but also to contribute by email:

Your feedback will help us develop these key strategies, which we'll be sharing again in 2017. You can also tell us what you think throughout this process (from now until 11 December) by emailing: .

It would not surprise me if some of the contributors to the debate are Guardian readers, as that paper does attract some well educated and informed readers (personally I prefer the Independent). But a word of warning: some of them may be members of the Metropolitan Elite or, worse still, Citizens of the World.