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Playing out

Playing Out St Albans District

Road Closed – courtesy of Playing Out Bristol
Everyone out to play – Playing Out St Albans District

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 is a nation-wide concept where residents choose to apply to close their road to through traffic for short sessions 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 from all generations benefit including children, adults, parents and isolated older people as everyone truly gets to know their neighbours.

Playing Out is not the same as a street party although they are similar and we love them both! The flowchart below may help you know if you’ve come to the right place! Read our explanation about what is the difference between a street party and a Playing Out session. Visit our sister site if you are interested in holding a street party in a St Albans District street.

Flow chart showing who to apply to for road closures in St Albans District

How to use these Playing Out webpages

The Playing Out section of this website consists of 3 pages.

  • This main Playing Out St Albans District page has the top-line overview
  • Our How to Apply page gives you the steps to follow if you want to start Playing Out sessions on your street.
  • Visit the News from Playing Out page to check on updated information – the latest dates for our free information sessions and upcoming application deadlines for Playing Out.

We also have a fourth page for our Festive Streets mini project each November and December.

Please sign up to our mailing list for updates straight to your inbox.

What is Playing Out?

  • Kids playing in the street
  • No cars to worry about
  • Adults mingling and meeting
  • Building communities

Watch our short video – it’s less than 2 mins long…..

Playing Out St Albans District – An introduction. With thanks to Mark Percival

About Playing Out St Albans District

Please find below:

Girl chalking. Photo: Playing Out Herts

Frequently asked questions

Who authorises Playing Out road closures?

The closures are ultimately authorised by St Albans City and District Council. Applications come to us at the Playing Out St Albans District team (a Sustainable St Albans project). They are sent on to Herts Police and Hertfordshire County Council Highways and, providing those two bodies do not object to the proposed closures, they are then considered by St Albans City and District Council. Successful applications are granted Temporary Play Street Orders for the closures and given notices for lampposts. The process takes approximately 6 weeks and there are 4 application rounds per year – deadlines can be found here on our News page.

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 or a very major road, your street is eligible to apply. However, St Albans District Council has the final say on whether your road is suitable for playing out and whether they will grant permission.

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 – so please give yourself plenty of time to do that before the application deadline.

How often can we play out?

For St Albans District Playing Out, the rules are below. You can also have an additional closure for a street party – see Street Party information below.

  • 8 times a year maximum
  • Maximum 1 per month
  • 3 hours at a time maximum
  • Sessions must be in daylight hours – no later than 4pm after the clocks go back in October, November and February and 3.30pm in December and January.
  • Applications take 8 weeks and you must consult your neighbours before you apply. There are four application rounds per year.
  • Please apply for multiple dates wherever possible.

We recommend you check your proposed dates against other local and national celebrations and events to make sure they will work for your community.

How much does it cost?

There is no charge to residents to apply for Playing Out. In addition, Playing Out St Albans District can lend streets the essential kit to enable them to play out such as road closure signs and hi viz jackets for stewards. 

How does the road closure work?

Road closures for Playing Out purposes have what they call a “permeable barrier”. Closure points are stewarded by volunteer residents in hi 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.

Do I have to attend an Information session before I apply?

Many people find our information sessions very useful but you do not have to have attended one in order to submit an application. You can “self-serve” from this website all the information you need – please visit our How to Apply page to find out how to apply to close your road for Playing Out. If you plan to “self-serve” we recommend that you contact the Playing Out St Albans District team to let us know you are getting started.

I have received a consultation letter about Playing Out on my street – what should I do?

We are delighted that one of your neighbours is proposing to organise some Playing Out street gatherings on your road in St Albans District. We hope you will join in and enjoy meeting your neighbours and strengthening your community. Events like this are for everyone in the street (not just for children and their families) so you will be very welcome. Your neighbour will no doubt be grateful for a positive response from you and an offer to volunteer as a steward will be appreciated. If you have any concerns about the proposal do have a chat with the neighbour who made the proposal. You may find this page on the national Playing Out website answers your concerns. If you want to talk to someone, the next levels of escalation are us here at Playing Out St Albans District followed by the St Albans City & District council. However, we will hope you will join more than a thousand other residents of the district in enjoying the benefits that attending a Playing Out session brings.

I have more questions!

Click here for our  PDF of Frequently Asked Questions.

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

3 children playing football in the closed road
3 footballers – Playing Out thanks Nicola Calleja for use of this photo

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

Latest News from Playing Out

Click here for the latest news about Playing Out St Albans District – includes events and deadline dates

How to Apply for Playing Out on your street

Click here for the How to Apply for Playing Out page – everything you need to know to start your St Albans District street Playing Out.

Information about Playing Out in different languages

We have translated a 2 sided flyer into a number of languages. Click on the image to access the pdf file. If you would like printed copies of these flyers, please contact us.

2 sided flyer in English

2 sided flyer in Arabic
2 sided flyer in Bengali (Sylheti)
2 sided flyer in Polish
2 sided flyer in Urdu

Playing Out St Albans District blogs and videos

Skipping together – Playing Out thanks Nicola Calleja for use of this photo

Playing Out St Albans District’s Funders and Supporters

logos of the funders of Playing Out St Albans District

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
National Lottery Community Fund
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, Sandy Walkington and Chris White.
Harpenden Trust
Sandridge Parish Council

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

Contact Playing Out St Albans District

How about a Street Party?

What is the difference between a street party and a Playing Out session?

A street party is a street gathering where the focus is on a party with food, music, entertainment, bunting, etc. Often they go on all afternoon or even all day.

In Hertfordshire, Herts County Council only allow one road closure per street per year for the purposes of a street party. If you want to organise multiple street gatherings, or if you have already held your street party this year and want one more gathering, you cannot apply to Herts County Council. Instead, you can apply via Playing Out St Albans District to St Albans District Council for up to 8 closures per year for the purposes of play and community building.

Playing Out sessions are also street gatherings but lower key and shorter. They can be up to 3 hours long and road closure points must be stewarded by volunteer residents so that cars needing access to closed section of street can be escorted in. The focus is on multiple opportunities for free play for children and neighbourly chat. Rules include no structures on the highway (ie no gazebos or tables on the actual road). No organised entertainment is necessary although tea & cake is very much encouraged.

Our Street Party supports you with your street party

Many people start off with a one-off street party to see how it goes. If this appeals to you, our sister organisation Our Street Party can provide you with a free information pack to help you organise a street party in St Albans District via an application to Herts County Council. You can have a street party in addition to your 8 Playing Out closures in St Albans District each year.

Street Party – Our Street Party thanks Pierre Oliviere Photography for use of this photo

Festive Streets and #ShowTheLove

Each year, we run a wonderful sister project called Festive Streets, encouraging residents in streets across the district to co-ordinate with neighbours to decorate the windows in their street. Visit the Festive Streets webpage in November and December to get your free information pack.

We also supported the #ShowTheLove campaign from the Climate Coalition during February 2021. Click here to see our blog all about #ShowtTheLove.


Click here for the Latest News from Playing Out – includes events and deadline dates


Click here for the How to Apply to Playing Out page – everything you need to know to start your St Albans District street Playing Out.