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.

Providing safe routes around local neighbourhoods is a fundamental aspect of creating child-friendly communities.

Enabling safe, independent travel by children contributes to their well-being and also brings environmental benefits.

The Play Strategy expects local authorities to develop safer routes to the places where children play and socialise. In many cases, this means providing walking or cycling routes for children, linked to existing networks.

It is important to bear in mind that cycling and walking around the local neighbourhood, or travelling to school or play areas under their own steam, offer opportunities for children to play in their own right.

However, road traffic is a major barrier to children’s independent travel and play:

  • it prevents access to playable space because of real and perceived fears of road accidents
  • prevents journeys on foot or by bicycle
  • reduces the quality of playable space through noise and air pollution from nearby roads
  • busy roads mean fewer informal opportunities to meet others.

Both the Sustainable Community Plan published by the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Statutory Local Transport Plan guidance produced by the Department of Transport both emphasise the importance of taking into account the needs of children when master planning for large developments and in the placement of access routes to play spaces.

The Sustainable Community Plan stresses that:

  • new and refurbished play spaces should be accessible on foot or by bicycle
  • children should be able to travel freely and safely around their local streets by foot or bicycle
  • play spaces are located away from busy streets where practicable
  • consideration is given to developing playable routes within and between neighbourhoods.

Statutory Local Transport Plan guidance published by the Department for Transport, recommends that local authorities strategically align Transport Plans with the Children and Young People’s Plans created by the local Children’s Trust.

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