Saturday, April 13, 2024

Auckland streets get green light for play

A pilot project that that’s been turning local streets into safe play spaces for tamariki has been given the go-ahead to develop Tāmaki Makaurau-specific guidelines by Auckland Council’s Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee.

‘Play Streets’ events were piloted across the country in 2021 following funding provided by Waka Kotahi/New Zealand Transport Agency.

Nine Play Streets events were held in west and south Auckland, with residents planning temporary traffic limits on their streets for the purpose of creating a safe environment for local children to play and connect.

The pilot project was designed and delivered by staff from Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, The Cause Collective and Healthy Families Waitākere.

Chair of the Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee Councillor, Alf Filipaina said the Play Streets pilot was a community-focused approach that had offered Aucklanders an opportunity to get involved in shaping their local community.

“The Play Streets pilot showed us the benefits of empowering residents to use their local street spaces as play spaces. These resident-led events also helped neighbours get to know each other, creating stronger community ties,” he said.

“The long-term goal is to establish a process that enables all Aucklanders living on quiet residential streets to have the right to safely and legally temporarily limit traffic, creating more space and opportunity for play.

“Developing guidelines specific for Play Streets in Tāmaki Makaurau is the next step in developing that process.”

A resident involved in an event in Avondale said that Play Streets had offered an opportunity for neighbours to get to know each other and that it had helped to normalise playing outside for kids.

The project had also made residents more conscious of road safety on the street, which Councillor Filipaina said reminded him of a south Auckland driveway safety initiative he was involved in as a community constable in the New Zealand Police.

Mayor Phil Goff said that the pilot programme showed that local residents welcomed the opportunity to temporarily turn their residential streets into play areas.

“The success of the programme was that kids had the chance to safely have fun our on the street and neighbours enjoyed the chance to get to know each other,” he said.

A co-design hui with Auckland Council and Auckland Transport staff, community members and agencies, regional sports trusts, elected members, Sport New Zealand, and Waka Kotahi will now be held to collaboratively develop a proposal for how Play Streets for Tāmaki Makaurau could be enabled and delivered, based on pilot learnings.

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