Children designing our urban worldPlaytime Latest

05/08/2010 – Children designing our urban world

The plight of housebound children being shunted from one activity to the next in the back seat of a car has become a cliché of 21st century childhood. Much of the loss of outdoor freedom children suffer is a consequence of poorly planned and designed communities, but the recent passing of the new Planning Act is an exciting step towards ensuring future development meets the needs of children. Under the new legislation planning authorities are now obliged to seek observations from children or people representing children’s groups when advertising a review of a development plan or local area plan.

Playtime has been lobbying for a change to planning legislation to ensure children have a voice in planning and designing both rural and urban environments for a number of years. Under the National Children’s Strategy children have a right to have a say in all matters which affect them. What could be more significant to their lives than the world they inhabit?

Recently Playtime organised a seminar with the UCD Master of Science in Urban Design students which looked specifically at children and urban design. The importance of consultation with children was a key focus of the seminar. If we hope to understand and meet their needs, who better to consult with than the experts. There is precedence to draw on such as the UNICEF Child Friendly Cities Initiative. Under this initiative; “a child friendly city is a system of good governance committed to fulfilling children’s rights”. 

It is high time we began to take children in Ireland seriously and to engage them in participate planning and design initiatives. When children are consulted on planning and design issues they inevitably suggest measures which meet the needs of the whole community, from waste management issues to ways to preserve local landmarks. They have a profound understanding of the fabric of their local community – what works and what doesn’t. Contact us if you would like information and advice on setting up a consultation process with children.