Playing Out 

Note for all residents and street organisers on Playing Out streets in St Albans district:   due to COVID-19, all sessions must be put on hold.  

For general information and inspiration about play and the Playing Out movement during the COVID-19 Crisis – please visit the continually updated COVID-19 pages on the national Playing Out website

Playing in with Playing Out

With Playing Out on hold, we have put together a video of child-led, free-play ideas for your children to do at home..

The video celebrates all the elements of play that you would normally find in street play – where children play with whatever is to hand in a free, unstructured and spontaneous way – and moves it from the street to inside the home. There are lots of suggestions for different types of play for indoors – from classics like French skipping through to water play and dressing up.


Once it is possible… Would you like to see your kids playing outside your own house? Would you like to meet neighbours and build support networks in your community?

Playing Out St Albans District (a Sustainable St Albans project) is delighted to be working with St Albans District Council to manage a new Playing Out scheme in the St Albans District.  

If you would be interested in closing your street for the purposes of children’s play and community building, please follow our Steps to Playing Out below.

Page Contents – scroll down for….

Latest News
     Application Deadlines
     Choosing your 2020 Dates
     Contacting us
What is Playing Out?
Can I organise Playing Out / Play Streets sessions on my road in St Albans, Harpenden and the villages?
Steps to Playing Out
Kit for Playing Out
Useful Docs for Playing Out St Albans District
Sign up to our Mailing List
Playing Out St Albans District in the Media
Our funders and supporters
How about a street party instead?




Playing Out is a nation-wide concept where residents choose to apply to close their road to through traffic to allow the children to come out onto the street and cycle, scoot and play together in the road. It is a fabulous way to build communities, offering neighbours a chance to build support networks and children the opportunity to get fresh air and exercise, as well as learn to play in an unstructured manner with other children of all ages.

Residents of all ages benefit especially children, parents and isolated older people as everyone truly gets to know their neighbours.

Road closures for Playing Out purposes have what they call a “permeable barrier”. Closure points are stewarded by volunteer residents in high viz jackets. Their job is to escort any resident vehicles into the closed area if they need access to minimise neighbour inconvenience. All through traffic is diverted. So if you live in the closed area and you need to go out or come in with your car, you absolutely can.

In St Albans District, you may apply to close your road in this way up to 8 times a year for 3 hours each time. There is no charge to residents.

See our short film – it’s less than 2 minutes long!

Can I organise Playing Out / Play Streets sessions on my road in St Albans, Harpenden and the villages?

Provided your road is not a bus route, you are eligible to apply. Follow our Steps to Playing Out below. The next application deadlines are shown in our Application Deadlines section.

You must live in the St Albans District Area – that is you must be in St Albans, Harpenden, Wheathampstead, Redbourn, London Colney or Sandridge, ie your local District Council must be St Albans City and District Council. Not sure? Use this link to find your local council – it should say Hertfordshire County Council and St Albans City & District Council. 

You must consult the other residents on your street – including holding a street meeting – so please give yourself plenty of time to do that before the application deadline.

We can help you with everything you need to do. Any questions, just contact the Playing Out St Albans District team.

Steps to Playing Out Applications
Getting your street ready for Playing Out 

adapted from

A. Understand how Playing Out works

B. Informally chat to neighbours. 

  • Get the idea out there, explain to people how it works. 
  • Try to get a small project team of neighbours working together,
  • Gather opinions about the stretch to be closed and when to do it (e.g. 2 hours one Sunday afternoon a month).

C. Organise a street meeting via letter drop. 

  • Invite everyone in the street plus any other parties affected (eg businesses and garage owners)
  • Make sure everyone feels welcome. 
  • Give them ways to contact you (email/phone) so there is plenty of opportunity for those not able to attend to reach you to discuss how it works. 
  • You can download a sample meeting invitation from our Useful Docs section below.
  • Attaching a map or description of what will be closed is helpful or you can present options for discussion at the meeting. 
  • At the meeting, talk it through, listen to thoughts, make decisions about dates and road closure stretches, collect contact details, share out roles.
  • You can then choose the dates and times you are applying for – see Choosing Your Dates above for some advice

D. Address concerns or objections

E. Communicate back to the street

  • Don’t be put off if you have only a few people responding to your invitation or attending the meeting. As long as everyone is informed and no-one has any objections, you can count that as a big win!
  • If you have had no objections, communicate back to the street what was decided and that you will be applying or have applied.  

F. Apply! 

G. Get ready

  • Read the official Playing Out manual
  • Carry out a risk assessment – this is not daunting and we have a template to give you ideas – (see Useful Docs below). 
  • Sort out your kit (see Kit below).
  • Put up your formal closure notice (TPSO) two weeks before you play out.
  • Plan the location of your Road Ahead Closed signs (if using them); ask to borrow wheelie bins if needed for hanging signs on.
  • Let your street know the dates and times of the sessions (but do not publicise more widely than on your street). We have a sample letter in Useful Docs below.
  • Make sure you communicate clearly that parents are responsible for their own children.
  • A few days before, windscreen flyers can be good for cars in the closed area. See Useful Docs below.
  • You can also put up posters in your street only. This page has a very useful editable poster for windows and lamp posts.
  • Recruit your neighbours to be stewards (2 per closure point).
  • Print a photo permission form (see Useful Docs below) if you want to take photos of local kids. We love to receive them but please make sure you have consent.
  • Print some Steward Briefing Documents (see Useful Docs below).
  • Charge your mobile phone.

H. Play Out!

  • Brief your stewards – this is a really important bit so, even if they are your friends and you feel a bit silly, do make it as formal as you can to get the message across. There are also sections on dealing with cars, etc in the Playing Out manual.
  • Put up your signs and ensure stewards have their high viz jackets.
  • Make sure stewards have your phone number.
  • Close the road safely with the stewards (see the Playing Out manual).
  • There is lots of advice in the Playing Out manual about how to manage the session so have a good read!
  • Have fun, smile lots, be welcoming and be proud of yourself for what you have achieved for your community!
  • Gather contact details for your neighbours.
  • Re-open the road safely with the stewards (see the Playing Out manual). Make sure everyone, especially children, are clear that all is going back to ‘normal’.
  • Let us know how you got on – we’d love to hear from you!

If you need any help with any of this, please do not hesitate to contact the Playing Out St Albans District team.

Kit for Playing Out


Playing Out St Albans District aims to be able to lend (without charge) all streets the essential kit to enable them to play out. Here is a list of what you will need – if you cannot assemble the kit yourself please contact the Playing Out St Albans District team and we will help you.

Essential kit

  • Road Closed sign – 1 per closure point (don’t forget any side streets or lanes)
  • Road Ahead Closed signs – if deemed necessary, particularly if your street is off a main road or drivers will be required to turn around at the closure point
  • High Viz jackets – 1 per steward, 2 stewards per closure point
  • A few Playing Out leaflets for curious passers-by
  • Whistle

Nice-to-have kit

  • Pavement chalk
  • Long skipping rope
  • French skipping elastic
  • Tea & biscuits for neighbours
  • Soft/sponge ball
  • Umbrella
  • Walkie Talkies (for stewards)

Sign up to our mailing list

To hear all the latest news about the Playing Out project and street party news, including deadlines for applications and information session dates, please sign up to our newsletter.

Click here to sign up to the Playing Out St Albans District and Our Street Party newsletter

Playing Out St Albans District in the Media

Herts Ad Article, September 2019
Radio Verulam February 2019 (also available as a podcast)
BBC Three Counties Radio, Andy Collins Show September 2019 (You Tube Audio)
BBC Three Counties Radio, Justin Dealey Show September 2019 (You Tube Audio)
BBC Three Counties Radio, Nick Coffer Show September 2019 (You Tube Audio)
Herts Ad Article, November 2019
St Albans & Harpenden Review, November 2019
Radio Verulam November 2019 (also available as a podcast)
Sustainability News from St Albans District Council March 2020


Playing Out’s Funders and Supporters

2020 Playing Out Funders

Playing Out St Albans District is a project run by the local environment charity, Sustainable St Albans. We would like to thank the following for their generous funding support:

Playing Out CIC, Bristol
Hertfordshire Community Fund’s St Albans Fund for the Future
St Albans District Council Community Grant Fund
Hertfordshire County Council Locality Budgets from County Councillors Teresa Heritage, Anthony Rowlands, John Hale and Sandy Walkington

In addition we would like to thank the following for their support in kind:

Mark Percival Consulting video productions
The Beech House pub, St Albans
The Enchanted Tea Rooms, Redbourn
The Harpenden Arms, Harpenden

How about a Street Party instead?

Many people start off with a one-off street party to see how it goes. If this appeals to you, Our Street Party can provide you with a free information pack to help you. See our sister website for information about having a street party in St Albans District or email Nicola at Our Street Party.


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