With nearly two decades under our belt we’ve ridden a fair few swings, roundabouts and seesaws in the playgrounds of politics. We’ve seen play climb the greasy pole some way towards getting the recognition and resourcing that it deserves… and take a hair-raising slide back down again. London Play has been bigger and smaller than it is today – but one thing is certain: it is here to stay.
A report by George Torkildsen for London Borough Grants recommends that a new London-wide body is established to provide support for the play sector and coordinate an effective platform for lobbying and campaigning for policy change.
With funding from London Borough Grants (later London Councils) London Play is established to be a catalyst for the “cohesive, strategic and rational development of play provision” across London. Or, in the words of founding director Adrian Voce, “one person with a box.” Steve Macarthur is the first chair of London Play.
Hackney Play Association publishes the first version of Quality in Play, the quality assurance scheme for out of school and childcare provision. Later that same year London Play agrees to take over the project and gets funding to pilot the scheme in nine London boroughs.
Ken Livingston becomes London’s first directly elected Mayor and the Greater London Authority is established.
The first London Adventure Playground of the Year Awards are launched and Southwark’s Dog Kennel Hill Adventure Playground wins.
Mick Conway becomes chair of London Play.
The Play Associations Network London is launched. Melian Mansfield becomes chair of London Play.
The Mayor’s Children and Young People’s Strategy is published, naming London Play as a lead agency in developing a play strategy for London.
London Play embarks on the Home Zones for London project, which over the next five years, supports communities in seven London boroughs to explore ways to transform their streets into safe places for children to play.
London Play takes over Trafalgar Square for Playday. Mayor Ken Livingstone addresses the throngs.
London Play is commissioned to write a play strategy for London.
Adrian Voce leaves London Play to join the then Children’s Play Council (later to become Play England). Dr Ute Navidi becomes director.
London’s Mayor Ken Livingstone publishes the Guide to Preparing Play Strategies, the culmination of months of work by London Play and former London Play director Adrian Voce.
Partners for Play project sees London Play helping London’s boroughs to develop effective play policies.
Play England is established with former London Play director Adrian Voce at the helm.
Janet Dalglish wins London Play’s inaugural Lifetime in Play in London Award.
Government publishes the Children’s Plan: Building brighter futures, marking a new level of commitment to play nationally. It announces the government’s intention to invest £225m over three years and to publish a national play strategy.
By the end of 2007 every borough in London had developed a play strategy.
A great year for Play in London! London Play celebrates its tenth birthday. Secretary of State for Children School and Families Ed Balls notes: "play is absolutely central to my aspiration to make this the best place in the world for our children and young people to grow up."
The Mayor of London publishes Supplementary Planning Guidance: Providing for Children and Young People's Play and Recreation, to support the London Plan.
30 Play Pathfinders each receive £2.1m in capital and £500,000 in revenue funding to provide a large adventure playground and develop at least 28 free play areas. Another 122 Playbuilders are each given an average of £1.1m in capital and £45,000 revenue funding to develop at least 22 free play areas for children aged 8 to 13.
Play England takes over Quality in Play to enable its roll out nationally through its regional offices.
The new Coalition government freezes the Playbuilder scheme as part of its swingeing programme of cuts.
The updated London Plan is published.
The Mayor publishes new supplementary planning guidance for play in London. The draft Shaping Neighbourhoods: Children and Young People’s Play and Informal Recreation SPG reviews the 2008 guidance and builds on it.
Dr Ute Navidi leaves London Play.
Hackney becomes the first borough in London to launch a year-long trial of play streets. Others quickly follow suit.
London Play is part of a coalition awarded £1m by the Department of Health to promote the development of play streets over the next three years.