Playgrounds most popular spaces for outdoor play

A new national survey has found that free-to-access, public playgrounds are the most common places for children to play.

In the largest study of play in Britain, the University of Reading found that, away from home and in the garden, children on average spent more time playing in playgrounds than any other place. According to the research, playgrounds are the most popular spaces for outdoor play at least once a week, closely followed by green spaces, and they are also the third most adventurous place for children’s play.

Additionally, Shrewsbury Town Council has conducted research showing a dramatic rise in footfall in public play facilities over the course of the pandemic, demonstrating how important these assets are to children and local communities. The SLCC, which represents the chief officers to over 5,000 town, parish and community councils, are calling on the government to recognise the importance of play in exercise, provide financial support for shared public spaces and long-term legacy funding for parks and playgrounds.

Mark Hardy, chair of the Association of Play Industries, said: “The study confirms the essential role that public play areas have in the physical and mental health of children. Playgrounds are vital community assets which have a significant impact on children’s health and well-being. Recent years have seen a sharp decline in the number of playgrounds. These community spaces are hugely under-funded and hundreds are disappearing. There is now an urgent need for sustained investment in a UK-wide network of playgrounds to protect and enhance children’s health.”

The API has previously found that for children in one in eight UK households without gardens, playgrounds are often the only outdoor space in which to play.

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