Making London child friendly – Designing places and streets for children and young people

This report by Mayor of London/Good Growth by Design looks at how the built environment can increase opportunities for independent mobility for children and young people in neighbourhoods and cities, and is aimed at GLA and borough policy teams such as planning, transport and public health; commissioning authorities, clients and developers; and architects, designers and play professionals.

Date added 27 September 2021
Last updated 29 September 2021

*This resource is about inclusive design. It is not specifically about the High Street, but has been included in response to requests for more studies/information about this topic, as well as linking to accessibility, recreational space, safety/crime and redevelopment plans priorities for High Street vitality and viability*

This report by Mayor of London/Good Growth by Design looks at how the built environment can increase opportunities for independent mobility for children in neighbourhoods and cities. Whilst it focuses on London in particular, the report presents several case studies from around the world to illustrate streetscapes and urban designs relative to inclusiveness of children and young people. The report is aimed at GLA and borough policy teams such as planning, transport and public health; commissioning authorities, clients and developers; and architects, designers and play professionals.

The key importance of the report is to highlight the freedom independent mobility gives the under 18s and can for example include everyday activities such as navigating their way to school or shops. The report presents a framework of the inquiry promoting a more holistic and integrated approach to independent mobility focusing on policy (principles and processes of governance to improve children and young people’s ability to move independently), participation (engaging young people in the development of a project from start to finish), management (how streets and spaces are adapted to become more child friendly), and design (physical urban features encouraging independent mobility).

The report also identifies a number of characteristics influencing children and young people’s independent mobility:

  • A rights-based approach
    • Protection of children
    • Sustainable environment
    • Involvement in decisions affecting the under 18s
  • Supervision
    • Natural surveillance enabling safety without monitoring
  • Health
    • Space enabling physical activity preventing health problems
  • Crime and antisocial behaviour
    • Built environment intervention and policy aiming to ensure both actual and perceived safety
  • Gender
    • Girls have restrictions on their mobility freedom
  • Risk
    • Ensure health and development benefits outweigh risks
  • Third places
    • Accessible and safe routes and connections to places such as school, parks, libraries etc.
  • Mobility and play
    • Incorporating play into mobility and mobility into play
  • Child development
    • Flexible spaces create a process of ‘self-reinforcing’ behaviours
  • Proximity
    • Places for different uses with closer proximity to home and school enable greater independent mobility.