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Play Friendly Neighbourhood Planning

Thursday April 11, 2024

Our Play Friendly Neighbourhood Planning approach aims to turn the traditional playground inside out, enabling communities to plan for play and sociability from a whole neighbourhood perspective. If, after reading the information below, you would like to know more or are interested in commissioning Ludicology to do this work, please contact

Play friendly neighbourhood planning for active and healthy places.

Children’s ability to support their health and well-being is dependent on the ease by which they can meet up with friends and play out in their local neighbourhoods. However, the value of children’s play is often overlooked or misunderstood, and rarely treated as a neighbourhood planning priority. This results in significant constraints on children’s freedom of movement and opportunities for play.

Such constraints limit a community’s sociability, leading to an erosion in community trust and preventing people from accessing assets that support good health; all of which creates more pressure on public services. Where provision for play is made, it is often by way of individual fixed equipment playgrounds. These separated spaces tend to serve a narrow range of children and can contribute to children being seen as out of place when playing beyond these spaces. A much more comprehensive response is required, one that looks at children’s play and community sociability from a whole neighbourhood perspective.

Play friendly neighbourhood planning for participative community placemaking.

Our play friendly neighbourhood planning approach combines localised research with participative spatial planning to produce a neighbourhood play sufficiency assessment and associated neighbourhood plan for play. This process includes conducting hyper-local research with children and adults, generating detailed evidence to inform strategic approaches to play and spatial planning at a neighbourhood level. Involving children and adults in this co-constructed process can form the basis of placemaking, addressing matters of spatial justice and inequalities of access to the public realm.

This is about much more than designated play provision, rather it is concerned with cultivating plans to improve conditions for play, sociability, and active travel across communities. Resulting plans will address issues of both infrastructure and activation, identifying improvements to the built environment and ways in which people can be encouraged to use them. This strategic and evidence-based approach ensures efficient and effective use of resources, aimed at improving resident’s satisfaction with opportunities for play and sociability in their neighbourhood.

Neighbourhood play sufficiency assessments and associated plans can be used to inform broader neighbourhood and placemaking plans, as well as providing evidence when securing further funding. This research process can also be understood as a development tool in and of itself, as people are brought together to think and talk about their neighbourhood and its opportunities.

Our play friendly neighbourhood planning addresses the following objectives:

  • Engage children and adults from the local community in researching conditions for play and sociability within their neighbourhood.
  • Generate baseline data about children’s and adult’s satisfaction with neighbourhood opportunities for play and sociability.
  • Identify assets and constraining factors influencing the sufficiency of opportunities for play and sociability at a neighbourhood level.
  • Develop detailed and specific insights into the culture of the local community and how that influences opportunities for play and sociability.
  • Actively involve community residents in the production of neighbourhood plans for improving opportunities for play and sociability.

Our play friendly neighbourhood planning process includes:

  • Online satisfaction surveys for children and parents/carers
  • A detailed spatial audit of the neighbourhood area
  • Research workshops with children in schools using a range of creative research methods
  • Focus groups with parents/carers and other adult residents
  • An interim presentation of findings to community stakeholders
  • A community master planning workshop
  • Advice on what works and how to make lasting change

Outputs from this process will include:

  • A play sufficiency assessment report on the findings from the research, identifying priorities for protecting and improving conditions for play and sociability.
  • The production of a concept neighbourhood plan for play with recommendations to support its further development and implementation.

Costs of our play friendly neighbourhood planning start at £12,500 (plus travel expenses and VAT) but are dependent on the size of community and the level of support required (including any further community consultations on proposed plans). Where required we also have partners with expertise in urban planning and landscape architecture who we can involve in further developing concept plans into more finalised and costed proposals.

If you work for an organisation with the capacity to lead on this sort of work, rather than paying Ludicology to do the work directly, a more cost-effective approach might be our Neighbourhood Play Sufficiency Package where we mentor others to implement the processes described above.

Play friendly neighbourhood planning case study:

Talgarth and District Regeneration Group contracted Ludicology to assess neighbourhood play sufficiency across three rural Welsh communities. The aim was to enhance children’s play and community sociability, whilst addressing issues of spatial justice and access inequalities. We took a mixed methods approach to understand community needs, using surveys, creative mapping activities and semi-structured conversations with younger and older children, as well as focus groups with adults.

Our research findings enabled the development of clear recommendations and a design brief for community spatial planning and placemaking. A community planning event then produced co-constructed concept masterplans for each community. These plans focussed on increasing the number and range of playable spaces, community engagement in developing spaces, networking spaces through safer routes and active travel, and traffic calming measures. The plans were underpinned broadly by a recognition of children as a part of the community and a focus on intergeneration playable spaces that foster community well-being and children’s play sufficiency. These plans have since been used to secure further funding for spatial improvements.

‘We are delighted with the outcomes so far and the level of community empowerment that has been made possible through the project and the associated activities. Many thanks for your energy, vision, and professionalism’

Councillor William Powell (TDRG)

Example concept of a play friendly neighbourhood plan:

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Ludicology support those interested in play and playfulness to develop evidence based play centred policies and practices through our advice, research and training services. Use this form to get in touch and to let us know what kind of support you require.