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Community building

Meet your street

After the past couple of years, many Merri-bekers have felt lonely, disconnected, and socially isolated. 20% of people living in Merri-bek don’t feel they could get help from friends, family, or their neighbours if they were in need.

As a Council, we are hosting many events to help you reconnect with your local community. Scroll down to view all these events, hosted by us and other local community groups. 

If you can't attend an event, you can host your own in your street! Transform your street into a Play Street and bring your neighbourhood together. 

Play Streets 

What is a Play Street?

A Play Street is a simple concept, it is a quiet residential street where children and neighbours of all ages connect and play together on the street, without car traffic, normally lasting 2-3 hours.

Play Streets are not large-scale community events, they are small-scale gatherings for neighbours, ideally coordinated by residents themselves.

You can download our Play Street Toolkit (PDF 2.4MB) which is a step-by-step guide to help you organise your event. This toolkit is specifically designed to provide planning advice (steps and templates) to Merri-bek communities who are interested in using temporary street closures for Play Streets.

What a Play Street needs:

  • a quiet road with no public transport routes
  • to be supported by other residents in the street
  • to be insured and permitted by Merri-bek City Council

A Play Street can be a recurring or a one-off event.

Making your street a Play Street is a low-cost and simple way to:

  • get your kids playing outdoors in a way that is fun, safe, and close to home
  • get to know your neighbours and make better connections among the people who live in your street
  • work with Council to create a long-term great street for your family and community

How to organise a Play Street

Below are the steps you can follow to organise a Play Street and submit it to be approved by Council. You will need to start completing these steps 2 to 3 months before the date you want to hold your Play Street so that all the steps can be completed in time.

  • First things first, you need to make sure that a Play Street will work for you and your neighbours. Consider the following questions to make sure Play Streets is the right choice for your street.

    1. Is your street suitable?

    Think carefully about your own street, or one that’s very close by. A safe and convenient Play Street meets the following criteria.

    Traffic

    The street is not a major road, does not have a lot of traffic, and is not on a public transport route.

    What defines a suitable Play Street?

    Play Streets are only suitable on quiet local streets. This means:

    • A quiet road with less than 1000 cars a day (peak hour is roughly 10%). A quick tip: if you count 50 vehicles within half an hour during peak traffic then your street will most likely have more than 1000 cars a day which means that it is too busy.
    • Minimal through traffic.
    • Not on a bus or commercial route.
    • An easy alternate route can be provided for cars that need to be diverted.
    • No road or footpath works are scheduled at the time of the Play Street.

    Don’t worry, this is an easy process and Merri-bek City Council are here to help if you have any questions.

    Character and safety

    It’s in a residential area where families and kids live, and is a place where kids and families would want to play. For example, it’s not too steep, dark or next to industrial land.

    Convenience

    Closing a section of the street won’t block access to a major driveway, building or school, and people will be able to use other routes to get where they need to go.

    Can you think of anything else that might make your
    street good or bad for holding a Play Street? If your street isn’t suitable, consider other options nearby. Do you have friends or neighbours nearby who might be keen to have a Play Street on
    their street?

    If you need assistance with traffic management or working out if your street can be a Play Street, please contact our Transport Team or Transport Development Engineer by emailing info@moreland.vic.gov.au or calling 9240 1111.

    2. Are your neighbours supportive?

    Before you get started, make sure at least one other parent, neighbour or family is committed to helping out. Since we all live busy lives, it’s useful to have a second person to help, so talk to your friends and neighbours to see who’s interested.

    It’s also a good idea to door-knock your neighbours to run the idea past them. Think about inviting them to a short informal meeting on the street to decide which day and time would work best.

    If you need assistance with the toolkit or asking your neighbours, please contact our Social Cohesion Officer or Community Wellbeing Lead by emailing info@moreland.vic.gov.au or calling 9240 1111.

    There is a script example available for talking to your neighbours about Play Streets in our Play Streets Toolkit (PDF 2.4MB).

  • Before the jump ropes come out, there are a few little details to cover off to ensure a safe, easy and fun day. All the ingredients for success are there: your street is suitable, your neighbours are excited and you have some helpers. Let’s get the nitty-gritty out of the way so the play can start.

    In order to fill in the online Play Street application form, you will need a completed Neighbour Support template.

    Neighbourhood support template

    The Neighbour Support template is part of the permit for collecting signatures of support; include this with your application. If a neighbour isn’t home, leave a flyer in their letterbox to let them know. It may help to print a map of the street and highlight the section you plan to use.

    You will need at least 75% of your neighbours' support. You will also need to provide Council with at least 2 options for dates as there might be work scheduled or the road closure equipment may not be available.

    There is a template you can use to gather proof of support from neighbours in our Play Streets Toolkit (PDF 2.4MB). If you do not use this template you will have to provide us with a document showing the dates you would like to hold a Play Street, and the record of your neighbours who support this application.

    Complete the Play Streets Application form

  • Traffic

    A traffic management plan sets out how a road can be safely closed to traffic and how the traffic should be redirected. Merri-bek City Council will be able to process your traffic management form for free. There is a template you can use for your Traffic management plan in our Play Streets Toolkit (PDF 2.4MB).

    The earlier you submit your traffic management plan the better, so try to submit it at least a month in advance to allow for plenty of time.

    Moreland City Council has road signage and barriers for you to use for free. Within your traffic management plan, please indicate what equipment you would like to use and we will let you know what is available on your preferred dates. You will need to organize the collection and return of the equipment, from the Merri-bek Civic Centre.

    You will need to assign someone to put out the road signs, install them, and let traffic in and out. Within your traffic management plan, please indicate what equipment you would like to use. The traffic management team will let you know what is available on your preferred dates.

    Collection and drop off at Merri-bek Civic Centre, 90 Bell St Coburg, Victoria.

    There is a template you can use for your Traffic management plan in our Play Streets Toolkit (PDF 2.4MB). If you do not use this template you will have to provide us with a document showing:

    • the names and contact details of your nominated traffic marshals
    • a list of what equipment will be used and where (choose from the list of equipment from our traffic trailer below)
    • a drawing indicating where the road will be closed from and/or closed up to and where the marshals will be located (examples of maps are available in our Play Streets Toolkit (PDF 2.4MB)).

    If you need assistance with the traffic management plan, please contact Merri-bek City Council’s Transport team by emailing transport@moreland.vic.gov.au or calling 9240 1111.

    Traffic equipment available for Play Streets

    Our traffic trailer equipment includes the following items that can be requested for Play Street events:

    • 7 barrier boards
    • 3 side road closed
    • 6 road closed (1 is outside the trailer)
    • 4 multi-message corflute frames
    • 6 inserts (see photos in our Play Streets Toolkit (PDF 2.4MB))
    • 5 bollards
    • 2 witches hats
    • 20 silver bipod legs
    • 1 extra square community event insert
    • 10 yellow barrier board legs
    • 2 local traffic only signs

    Complete a Traffic Management plan form

  • Your Play Street should be easy and fun, but it is still important to think about how to keep yourself and others safe whilst playing on the street. To support your Play Street, Merri-bek Council requires a completed Risk and Safety Plan to be submitted to Council prior to your event.

    Some of the potential risks associated with a Play Street event are set out in our Play Streets Toolkit (PDF 2.4MB). Feel free to add any other risks you can think of as well as steps to address them and who is responsible.

    Provide a copy to all organisers and helpers before your event, and talk it through with them on the day.

    Please note: the Risk and safety plan template in our Play Streets Toolkit (PDF 2.4MB) is a draft to be adapted by each street. The hazards and actions are provided as examples. Your risk discussion should be undertaken by the organisers before the day of the event to identify and plan how to address potential hazards.

    You need to submit your completed Risk and Safety Plan template to us for review. If you do not use this template you will have to provide us with a document showing:

    • A list of dangers that could impact your proposed Play Street (we have provided some examples in our Play Streets Toolkit (PDF 2.4MB) but we encourage you to also include some dangers that may be particular to your street/area)
    • A list of steps that you will take to reduce the risk of each of the dangers you have listed
    • A list showing who will be responsible for each of the steps to reduce the risks

    Submit your Risk and safety plan form

  • Almost there! Getting toys and people ready to go can be almost as fun as the day itself. Once Merri-bek City Council has approved your application, it’s time for the fun stuff! Gather a kit of toys, and supplies, get the word out and get each organiser to take on a role to share the load.

    Just a reminder that Play Streets are family-friendly and alcohol-free and no one should be selling drinks or food, let’s keep it free and fun!

    1. Play Box and Organisers’ Box

    You and your neighbours may have toys and supplies laying around the house. Gathering these things together in a kit will make it easy to pull out every time you host a Play Street.

    A Play Box can be simple; think about the materials you already have available. Balls, chalk, and skipping ropes are low cost and versatile. Think about ‘loose parts’ you might have around for free play, such as cardboard boxes, fabric, milk crates, pieces of rope and string - we all know a child’s imagination can go a long way. Kids in the street can bring their own bikes, skates, and balls too.

    Create an Organisers’ Box including sunscreen, a first aid kit, hi-vis vests and important paperwork such as your permit. To keep costs to a minimum, check what your neighbours have available before heading to the shops.

    2. Get the word out

    Think about who might like to play on your street. What’s the best way to let them know about the Play Street?

    Chalking on the footpath is a handy and creative way to spread the word. Adding a playful hopscotch with the date and time at the end might be a nice touch.

    Help promote your event by listing it on Merri-bek Council's website, to help get the word out! Our Neighbourhood houses and Libraries would also welcome posters or brochures promoting your Play Street.

    Make sure to pop a notification letter (see our example in our Play Streets Toolkit (PDF 2.4MB)) in the letterbox of anyone who lives on the part of the street that will be closed to traffic. You can also leave the same note on cars that are parked on the road.

    3. Who’s doing what?

    Go over the running sheet, safety plan and roles outlined in your permit with your fellow organisers. This doesn’t have to be dull – Play Streets can be just as fun for adults as kids!

    If you like, ask volunteers to take on fun roles or characters in their jobs, like a superhero crossing guard or a cleaning crew with magical powers to make litter disappear.

    We have provided a draft Roles and Running Sheet template, and a Contact list template in our Play Streets Toolkit (PDF 2.4MB). We recommend you use and adapt these templates for your Play Street.

    4. Making your Play Street fun for all

    Think about how to make neighbours who don’t have young kids feel welcome and able to join in as well. You could bring out garden furniture to create a seating area for adults to hang out and chat or invite neighbours to bring a plate to share or a pot of tea.

  • The day is here! Keep it simple and let the good times roll - while the Play Box will prompt different types of play, kids find ways to play on their own.

    To keep things running smoothly, below are a few tips.

    1. Keep the running sheet close by

    Follow the running sheet and safety plan set out in your permit, and make sure neighbours who are taking part know what they are responsible for. Share each other's contact phone numbers ahead of time. Remember having someone at each end of the road closure is essential.

    2. Dealing with local traffic

    While a Play Street is closed to traffic, residents in the closed-off section must be able to leave or reach their homes. You will also need to designate people to be responsible for escorting cars through the street if needed and to slowly walk in front of the car to guide the car safely in/out of the street. More details are set out in the Risk and Safety Plan template and in your traffic management plan.

    If any incident involving personal injury or property damage is suffered by a participant or member of the general public in relation to a PlayStreet event then please contact info@moreland.vic.gov.au and Manager Community Wellbeing will log an incident report.

    3. Capture all the smiles

    How was your day? Capturing the success and positive impacts of your Play Street can be useful for seeking support or even funding for future events. This can be part of the fun.

    Here are a few tips:

    • Have kids (and adults!) draw their favourite thing about the day.
    • Count the number of attendees by handing out stickers to each person. At the end of the day, count how many stickers are missing from the sheet.
    • Write down great stories from the day.
    • Ask parents about their favourite street games from their own childhood and capture their stories.

    4. Tips for parents

    These are a few useful pointers to share with participating grown-ups:

    • All parents are responsible for their kids’ activities and food.
    • People love taking photos at Play Streets, but encourage people to only take photos of their own kids. If you really want to take photos, get written approval from the relevant parents, being clear about how the photos will be used.
    • Go out and have a ball! We hope you, your neighbours, and all the lucky children enjoy a lovely day.
  • If you’ve just run your first Play Street then congratulations!

    Celebrate your success and thank your friends and neighbours for attending and helping out.

    Talk to people who came along and ask them what they liked about Play Streets. Getting quotes can be great to capture your results and areas for improvement. Let us know how your Play Street went and what you’re planning next. You might be able to apply for a recurring event.

    You can share ideas, experiences, and advice with others planning Play Streets in Australia by joining the Play Streets group on Facebook.

    Please note: the first Play Street you run takes a bit more work, but after that, it should be smooth sailing as you’ve done it all before.

If you need assistance with the toolkit, please contact us by calling 9240 1111 or emailing info@moreland.vic.gov.au and ask for the Social Cohesion Officer or Community Wellbeing Lead.

Upcoming community building events