A new UK Government took office on 11 May and is in the process of deciding its position on a number of policies and government strategies . As a result the content of this page may not reflect current Government policy. All statutory guidance and legislation referred to continues to reflect the current legal position unless indicated otherwise.

Spatial planning has a key role in the creation of a safe and attractive built environment that meets the needs of all the community, including children’s need for a range of play experiences.

The town and country planning system is designed to regulate the development and use of land in the public interest. National planning guidance explicitly recognises the need for dedicated outdoor space for play and recreation. Planning and Policy Guidance Note 17 (PPG17) requires local authorities to assess the needs and opportunities for different types of outdoor space and recreation facilities.

When developing family housing planning authorities are required to consider the needs of children under Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing (PPS3). PPS3 requires a good provision of recreational areas including: private gardens, play areas and informal play space. These should be well designed, safe, secure and stimulating with safe pedestrian access.

Several other documents support local authorities in meeting the need for playable spaces including the Department for Transport guidance documents Manual for Streets and Making Residential Travel Plans Work.

Designing localities that promote children’s play is most successful when local planning authorities seek cross-agency dialogue and cooperation. To achieve these aims, planning authorities should engage, early in the planning process, with local communities, stakeholders and service providers.

The Children’s Trust can assist planning departments to ensure that children’s environmental well-being is represented within spatial and housing planning policies.

Policies on access, quality and quantity of playable space should be included within Local Development Framework documents including the core strategy and supplementary planning policies.

Planning departments should ensure their work links up with other strategies such as:

  • Sustainable Community Strategies
  • Local Area Agreements
  • Local Transport Plans
  • Children and Young People’s Plans
  • Open Space Strategies
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