Calderdale roads could temporarily close to turn into community play spaces

Roads in Calderdale could temporarily close to traffic to allow them to become community play spaces.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet will consider introducing a play streets scheme in the borough. This would allow residents to close a street for a few hours at a time, so children can play without the danger and inconvenience of traffic going through.

Road closure schemes already take place in a few local authorities in the UK.

Road closure schemes already take place in a few local authorities in the UK.

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The scheme would initially be trialled in areas of Sowerby Bridge, North Halifax and Central Halifax. It would then be reviewed before potentially being implemented across the borough.

There are many benefits associated with playing out, including children spending more time outdoors, making new friends, development a greater sense of place and encouraging community spirit.

The scheme would also help improve young people’s physical activity levels, health and wellbeing as part of the Active Calderdale movement.

A number of local authorities already close streets for play and in June this year, a temporary road closure was organised outside Field Lane Primary School in Rastrick.

Feedback from the school indicated that this was a successful initiative.

If implemented in Calderdale, the intention is that the scheme would be community led, with residents, supported by to Council, responsible for the organisation of the sessions. Before a closure could be granted, the whole street must be consulted and any concerns carefully considered.

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Calderdale Council’s Director of Public Health, Paul Butcher, said: “Many adults have fond memories of ‘playing out’ as a child, calling to meet friends cycling on our bikes or kicking a ball around the street. Unfortunately, many children today are unable to play outside their own door, mainly due to the increase in traffic on our roads.

“Play streets are a low cost, simple and effective way to allow children to play near or outside of their own front door. Allowing children to play actively is a vital part of our Active Calderdale mission, and is not only good for health and happiness, but also encourages social interaction and can help development.

“In turn, adults would also meet and get to know their neighbours, encouraging a sense of community in a place.”

Play streets will be discussed at the meeting of Calderdale Council’s Cabinet on Monday 2 December at Halifax Town Hall, starting at 6pm.

If approved, a trial approach would be developed, before reviewing and potentially expanding the programme through the borough.

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