CHILDREN across the borough have been given the chance to play outside without worrying about traffic thanks to an innovative new pilot scheme.

Swindon Borough Council is currently trialling the national Playing Out initiative, which allows residents to apply to close a road in their neighbourhood for a limited period so children can play games freely in the street.

A group of community-spirited residents in Penhill have already tested the scheme and have given it the thumbs up.

Atworth Close was temporarily shut for a few hours on a Friday afternoon in March, when more than 20 children of all ages, along with many adults, made the most of the traffic-free outdoor space.

It was so popular that the group of volunteers who ran the event, working closely with the housing department, organised another play date on Thursday, this time in Westbury Road, Penhill.

Thanks to donations from the Swindon Scrapstore and other local shops, children were playing a range of outdoor games such as bat and ball, hoola hoop and hopscotch.

Organiser Zoe Jones, 43, from Lower Penhill, said: “We all had a brilliant time. Children who lived next door to each other but had never properly met, played out together for the first time and made friends.

“It was also an opportunity for adults to chat and socialise whilst watching the kids all out in the fresh air enjoying themselves.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea and we’re going to make it a regular event. I would encourage everyone to give it a try.”

The Playing Out scheme first started in Bristol and has since grown so rapidly that hundreds of children across the country are now playing out regularly.

All residents are invited to take part and organise a Playing Out event in their area and it is free to apply to the council for a road closure order.

It is hoped the scheme will help encourage people of all ages, particularly children, to discover the benefits of playing outside as opposed to staying in and watching TV or playing on games consoles.

Children aged between five and 16 need to be physically active for at least an hour a day, but there is growing evidence that their lifestyles are increasingly sedentary.

Councillor Brian Ford, cabinet member for health and social care, said: “This is a great example of community spirit and volunteering in action. I’m delighted that the scheme has really taken off in Penhill and I hope other areas will follow their lead as part of the pilot.

“Besides being fun for children, it benefits their health and also presents an opportunity for everyone in the street to get together and have a good chinwag.”

For more information about the initiative, log on to or email to request a temporary street closure application form.