Video and photo gallery: Norwich road closed to cars for children’s play session

PUBLISHED: 09:16 26 September 2012 | UPDATED: 09:54 26 September 2012

Children including Ike Firks have their first opportunity to enjoy play time on Sandringham Roadafter the street was closed.

Children including Ike Firks have their first opportunity to enjoy play time on Sandringham Roadafter the street was closed. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Archant Norfolk

Cars were replaced by skateboards, bicycles and a bouncy castle in one city street yesterday afternoon.

Families on Sandringham Road in the Golden Triangle came home to a closed-off street, with children running around and enjoying the sunshine.

It was the first time a playing out event has been hosted in Norwich, with parents taking inspiration from a similar scheme in Bristol.

Families on the street wrote to Norwich City Council asking for the road to be closed from 3.30pm to 5pm to allow children to play outside.

Teacher Freya Dearden, who lives on the street, said the road was normally so cramped with parked cars that parents struggled to push prams down the pavements.

“It harks back to the good old days,” she said. “We had more freedom then to play creatively. Sometimes you feel like you live in a car park.”

Her two children, Iris, four and Mabel, one, were among around 20 youngsters who enjoyed the freedom of the street.

And the 32-year-old hopes other people in the city will take inspiration from their example and close-off their roads for the afternoon.

She added: “It opens the doors for this to happen in other parts of Norwich.”

The parents from Sandringham Road are now putting pressure on councillors to make it easier for streets to be closed in Norwich to host similar events.

For yesterday’s playing-out afternoon, organisers had to pay the city council £36 and register the event as a street party. Organisers said it took two months to plan.

And at the moment parents will have to pay the £36 fee every time they want to host an event.

They want that to be changed so they can pay a flat fee for the year and have the street closed for a set number of evenings. Green Party councillor Lucy Galvin, who backed the road closure, said: “It was a fantastically successful event for the children and I would encourage the city council to support this in every way that they can.”

Yesterday’s road closure was part of a nationwide movement to shut streets so children can play.

Supporters say playing in the street increases community spirit, improves children’s health and helps them develop independence.

Mother-of-two Katie Dunne, 31, added: “It is nice to not have to go to the park. It is lovely to come outside your own front door and play.”

Sandy Winters, a mother of seven-year-old twins, said: “There are lots of parked cars here and it is a busy road. It is difficult to walk down the street.

“It would be nice to see the other streets do it.”

The street play afternoon was first proposed through our new social network website the website to see what is happening in your neighbourhood and to suggest similar events.

What do you think? Should more streets in Norwich be closed to allow children to play? Email us at or write to Letters, Evening News, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

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