Inner West to trial child-friendly streets as urban playgrounds

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Inner West Council will trial a ‘Play Streets’ program, as part of the recently endorsed Recreation Needs Study: A Healthier Inner West.

The study emphasised the need to deliver new open space and recreation facilities, including adapting spaces such as roofs or streets and laneways for ‘sharing recreation’.

Play Streets are play spaces that are created by temporarily closing streets to through traffic so kids and parents can play outside.

Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne says the Play Streets program is a low cost way to provide more space for children to play in.

“Lots of Inner West kids don’t have backyards or easy access to open space, so we are trialling a Play Streets program, where roads can be temporarily blocked off to become urban playgrounds.

“We are committed to making existing spaces, such as laneways, more adaptable so our kids have access to recreation options that will allow them to live a healthier and more active life.

“We’d love to see a return to the days when kids regularly kicked a ball and played cricket in the street, or used the road as a chalkboard to draw and sketch.

“The Recreation Needs Study makes a strong case for creating connections to the outdoors - the mental and physical health benefits of that are huge,” Mayor Byrne added.

The study recommended that Council collaborate with organisations such as Play Streets Australia to trial a Play Streets program throughout the Inner West to encourage children to participate in unsupervised and safe play in their streets.

Creating Play Streets will help to overcome the declining number of safe places where children can play.

Philip Thalis is a well-known architect, urban design leader and advocate for design excellence in the public domain. He called the Inner West trial a “great initiative”.

“Many European cities manage their streets flexibly,” he said. “There’s no good reason for cars to always dominate. I will watch with interest to see how this goes. If successful, it would be great to expand the trial.”

The Recreation Needs Study: A Healthier Inner West provides a robust evidence base on which to develop a strategy for the Inner West through until 2036.

The study recommended the Play Streets trial program as a ‘quick win’ which Council could undertake. Other ‘quick wins’ included:

• A feasibility and location study into synthetic turf sporting fields, to assist in making spaces more versatile

• A children’s adventure and wild play pilot project, where children are encouraged to take risks and enjoy in unstructured play

• A recreation laneways pilot project

• A Welcoming Women and Girls Recreation Program to address the gender imbalance of recreation opportunities identified in the study

Council will consider trialling Play Streets on streets that do not have close proximity to open space. The benchmark used is more than 400 metres “easy walking distance” from an open space area at least ½ hectare in size. Those areas are clearly illustrated in the Study, available on Council’s Your Say website.

Anyone interested in making their street part of the trial should visit after Tuesday, 29 January 2019.

For media enquiries, contact Elizabeth Heath | Media and Communications Coordinator P: +61 2 9392 5334 | E:

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Page last updated: 15 Jan 2019