Play Streets allow communities to open quiet local streets for a few hours at a time for children to play and neighbours to spend time together. Community organisers can apply to councils to temporarily restrict traffic to make these events possible and safe.
The Reshaping Streets package of regulatory changes announced in July 2023 gives councils the ability to support Play Streets through a provision called Community Streets. The Community Streets provision will make it easier for communities to apply to host Play Streets events and make the approval framework clearer for councils.
Enabling children to play outside together, has enormous benefits for their health and wellbeing. Activities like Play Streets are also great for strengthening community connections.
Play Streets can also:
Trials run in Tāmaki Makaurau in 2021 showed that approximately 80% of Play Streets participants were more likely to recognise their neighbours and know their names, and over half of those surveyed would be more willing to share a meal or garden produce with their neighbours. Enabling communities to get together in their streets builds community cohesion and reduces loneliness.
Play Streets 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.
Waka Kotahi and Sport New Zealand, alongside councils, regional sports trusts, Healthy Families NZ, and other organisations, have been working together since 2019 to support Play Streets in Aotearoa.
If you would like to host a Play Street in your neighbourhood, contact your local council or visit the Sport NZ website for examples of what other communities have done.
Waka Kotahi has produced guidelines to make it easier for councils to support Play Streets in their neighbourhoods. The Guidelines for restricting traffic for Play Streets events were first published in 2021 following a successful pilot project. These guidelines are being updated to reflect the Reshaping Streets regulatory changes announced in July 2023, which include provisions for Community Streets events. We expect the updated guidelines to be available in mid-August 2023. In the meantime, councils can use the existing guidelines.
These guidelines are designed to support councils to adopt processes that ensure Play Streets can be hosted by communities safely, easily, and cost-effectively. The guidelines provide 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 NZ Guide to Temporary Traffic Management. They have been formally ratified by the Transport Services Group.
Play Streets are still a relatively new concept in New Zealand, and we acknowledge that there will be ongoing learning about how to best support this kaupapa.
If you have feedback or questions about the Play Street Guidelines, or if you are a council and would like help with the development of policies and procedures for approving Play Streets under the new Reshaping Streets rule changes, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A special thank you to the families, community organisations, and councils from across the country involved in the 11 Play Streets events that were part of the 2020/21 pilot programme. Your mahi has directly contributed to the development of the Guidelines.
Play Streets in New Zealand is inspired by Playing Out - the UK national organisation supporting street play.
Website banner image credit: Kelston neighbourhood and Healthy Families Waitākere.