The Examination in Public of the Mayor’s Draft London Plan entered it’s ninth week. The Alliance for Childhood was invited to participate on Friday in the session on Policy S1, Social Infrastructure. This is an overarching policy on requirements for the general provision of schools, community spaces, youth clubs and more.
The Alliance is proposing that the definition of social infrastructure is expanded to include children’s social infrastructure with a reference to Policy S4 on Play and Informal recreation and to strengthen protection for play space, early years centres and youth clubs.
There are many instances where these facilities have been closed, reallocated or replaced by housing. There must be a greater recognition of the necessity and the value of these resources for the healthy development of children and young people. It’s not a luxury we can’t afford. This is short term thinking, storing up difficulties for the future, adding costs and resulting in the consequences we now experience of depression, self harm, youth violence and knife crime. The built environment and the provision of children’s social infrastructure can influence children and young people for good or ill.
There was general concordance from other participants in the suggestion they made. The Alliance is putting forward suggestion for changes to the wording of Policy S1. We hope that the Mayor will take it sufficiently seriously to make the required changes.
You can read our written statement here.
Although not participating in the afternoon session, which included discussion on Policy S4 on Play and Informal Recognition, our interests were represented by Nicola Butler from Play England, Adrian Voce and Tim Gill.
We have concerns, as do many others in the field, that developers are evading the requirement to provide a minimum of 10 square meters of play space for each child that it’s anticipated the development will accommodate. Some parties would like this to be removed on the basis that it is too prescriptive. The tendency is to take this figure as the requirement and not the base line. However, they are free to create a bigger area if they choose.
The figure is based on what’s known as the ‘child yield calculator’. This is out of date and underestimates the number of children in private housing. It’s a question of optimising profit. However there is a more sinister side where developers assume that their targeted group that only not don’t have children, but also won’t want to live in a development with children present.
It’s important also that this policy makes clear that play areas in new developments are accessible for children from all types of tenure and their is no segregation.
3rd April 2019