woman in high vis with small boy holding a football
Rachel Howarth and sone Ruben

Play Street comes to Rossendale

Rossendale has held the first Play Street in Lancashire. Play Streets are neighbour-led short road closures, creating a safe space for children to play freely together on their doorstep.  

The aim is to create a safe environment where children and their families can get outside, play together and come together as a community.  

The scheme in Rossendale has been driven by Councillor Samara Barnes. Cllr Barnes took the scheme for approval at Lancashire County Council in July where it received unanimous cross-party support, and from there, with the support of Rossendale Borough Council, Lancashire County Council and the police, a pilot street was identified. 

Cllr Barnes said: “This has been a real passion project for me, and I’m absolutely thrilled our first session has been such a success. I’m sure a lot of older people have really fond memories of playing out when they were young. It’s where important friendships are made, where you have a laugh with your mates and where you learn so much. A lot of kids these days just don’t have that opportunity. It’s become increasingly difficult for them to play out due to the number of cars on the roads.  

“Play Street is about reclaiming that space, for just a short period of time for the kids, and indeed the whole community to come together and play. There is lots of evidence from Play Streets in other parts of the country that they improve the physical and mental health of those who take part – so what's not to love!”  

Prospect Hill in Haslingden was chosen as they have a very active and close knit community who also have experience of managing road closures for the street parties they have held for Jubilee and Coronation celebrations.  

Led by Rachel Haworth and a small team of volunteer stewards who live on the street, the road was closed to traffic for three hours on November 12 so the children could play safely. 

Rachel said: “We all had such a great time and not even the rain dampened our spirits. The kids absolutely loved it. They were playing conkers, football, skipping and that old favourite Kerby. We’ve planned to repeat this every fortnight for three hours in the afternoon and the kids are already looking forward to the next one.” 

Councillor Barnes added: “Whilst we currently have one Play Street, the ambition is to grow the scheme and have them all over the borough.  

“There is a criteria to meet to become a Play Street – it can’t be a main road, or a bus route and we will risk assess every application to make sure it’s safe. I have already had two enquiries and would love to see them across the whole of the valley o encourage people to get in touch if they’re interested.” 

If anyone is interested in finding if their street can be a Play Street, contact Samara on samara.barnes@lancashire.gov.uk

Published: Monday, 20th November 2023