Beyond parks and playgrounds

Marianne Mannello, Assistant Director, Play Wales

Play Wales recently held the Child-friendly planning and design: beyond TAN 16 seminar that brought together renowned speakers in the fields of children’s play, design, planning, rights and participation.  The seminar provided a brief overview of urban planning and how it relates to children and their play, with examples from the UK and around the world.  There was a focus on placing greater emphasis on children’s everyday lives and putting policy into practice.

Marianne Mannello is Assistant Director of Policy, Support and Advocacy for Play Wales. She explains: “A sense of place is important to help children and teenagers to feel part of their community and neighbourhood.   Quality residential design promotes community cohesion and should consider access to amenities and public spaces for all residents. It is therefore astonishing that all too often people, particularly children, come low down the priority list when it comes to new housing developments and there is often limited time given to thinking about how to generate community in new places.

“Children continue to tell us that outdoors is one of their favourite places to play. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the important role that access to good outdoor space has on health and well-being. Yet, when designing new housing developments or regenerating existing ones, the needs of children to play out, meet friends and get about safely are often overlooked.

“The seminar explored the impact that the planning process has in encouraging play and the positive social interactions it can generate in communities. It explored how we can work together to advocate for and enable the development of child friendly communities, thus contributing to healthier and happier childhoods. Although not easy, it is possible.

“The right skills are needed at the right stage of a project and the play sector in Wales has the expertise to galvanise and lead the way in thinking about how to work better for children. The emphasis on placemaking in Planning Policy for Wales supports a more holistic approach and there is a real opportunity to engage creatively across the play and planning sectors to learn from each other’s approaches and delivery models.

“Many of us have fond memories of growing up in a time when it was accepted that children, once they were old enough and confident enough to negotiate the outside world independently or with friends and siblings, played outside and ranged within their neighbourhoods freely. Children and teenagers across Wales are asking for the same – more time, space and permission to play in communities that care for them… that’s not too much to ask, surely?”

Further information is available at