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children playing neighbourhood basketball in the middle of street which is cordoned off by orange cones

Play Street Guidelines

Guidelines for restricting traffic for Play Street events

What are Play Streets?

Play Street events temporarily restrict vehicle traffic on quiet local streets, so that children and parents can be active, socially connect, and play in their neighbourhood. They are small, resident-led, local events, held on quiet neighbourhood streets during daylight hours.

Play Streets have gained in popularity in recent years, especially in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia. Waka Kotahi and Sport New Zealand, alongside councils, regional sports trusts, Healthy Families NZ, and other organisations, have been working together since 2019 to make it easier for Play Streets to happen in New Zealand.

Why Play Streets?

Play Streets contribute to a range of positive societal outcomes. They provide an opportunity for communities to re-imagine the purpose of streets and are part of the crucial work to transform our transport system to safer, healthier, and more environmentally friendly options. Play Streets encourage physical, social, and mental wellbeing for tamariki and support friendly and healthy neighbourhoods. They also support New Zealand’s commitment to Article 31 of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which recognises a child’s right to play.

For more information about the benefits of Play, visit the Sport NZ website(external link).

The Play Streets Pilot 2020-2021

The first Play Street events in New Zealand found it challenging to navigate traditional traffic management processes, which created a significant barrier to running events. In 2020, Waka Kotahi developed Draft Play Street Guidelines, which aimed to make it simpler, more accessible, and more cost-effective for communities to run Play Street events. These were piloted in seven council areas (Auckland, Whanganui, Napier, Palmerston North, Wellington, Lower Hutt and Dunedin), with a total of 11 Play Street events being run. Key lessons, insights, and feedback from the pilot informed the development of the final Guidelines below.

The Play Street Guidelines

The Play Street Guidelines (the Guidelines) are for councils - they provide guidance for councils on how to enable neighbourhoods to temporarily restrict traffic on low-risk streets for play activities. The Guidelines are a framework for enabling Play Streets – each council will need to develop processes for managing Play Streets that best suit local needs and internal requirements. The Guidelines are aligned to the risk mitigation principles of the Code of Practice for Temporary Traffic Management (CoPTTM) (and the upcoming NZ Guide to Temporary Traffic Management), and have been formally ratified by the Transport Services Group.

The Guidelines specifically focus on street selection and traffic restriction, with the aim to:

  • make it simpler, more accessible, and cost-effective for both councils and neighbourhoods to run Play Streets, and
  • encourage fit for purpose, risk proportionate processes with an appropriate level of formality around risk management.

Guidelines for restricting traffic for Play Street events [PDF, 2.8 MB]

Example Play Streets application form [DOCX, 74 KB]

Example Play Streets health and safety plan [DOCX, 39 KB]

Frequently asked questions by Traffic Management Coordinators and Councils are found in Appendix 4 of the Guidelines document.

The overarching goal of this guidance is to encourage councils to adopt and enable processes that ensure Play Streets can be hosted by neighbourhoods safely, easily, and in a cost-effective way. The Guidelines are complimented by the Play Street tools and resources hosted by Sport NZ(external link) that provide support to Play Street organisers and supporters.

Feedback or questions?

Play Streets are still a new concept in New Zealand, and we acknowledge that there will be ongoing learning about how to best support this kaupapa. We aim to continuously improve these Guidelines based on sector experience and feedback.

If you have feedback or questions about the Play Street Guidelines, please contact us at playstreetguidelines@nzta.govt.nz

From December 2021, and throughout 2022, we will also be running a series of online sessions (aimed at council staff) to increase awareness, understanding, and use of the Guidelines. If you are interested in participating, please email us at playstreetguidelines@nzta.govt.nz and we will add you to the invite list.

Note: If you are a local resident or community organisation and are keen to host a Play Street visit the Sport NZ website or contact your local council.

Case studies

Below are examples of Play Street events run through the Play Streets Pilot and the Innovating Streets Programme in 2020/2021.

New Play Streets events help connect neighbours | Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

Hutt City Play Streets | Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

Play streets in Napier | Sport New Zealand - Ihi Aotearoa(external link)

Acknowledgements

A special thank you to the families, community organisations, and councils who participated in the Play Street Pilot and the early Play Street events around the country. Your mahi has directly contributed to the development of the Guidelines.

Website banner image credit: Kelston neighbourhood and Healthy Families Waitākere.

Play Streets in New Zealand is inspired by Playing Out - the UK national organisation supporting street play. Follow them @playingoutCIC and visit their website for information and ideas www.playingout.net(external link) 

SPORT NZ Co-Branded logo