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Children and Planning

The RTPI is working on two new research projects that examine the role that town planning can play in creating child friendly environments.


Child Friendly Planning Policy in the UK: A review


Children climbingThe aim of this project is to assess the extent to which planning policies across UK nations can be considered 'child-friendly' with relation to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Download the full report here (Nov 2019).

Research objectives:

  • To review national planning policies across all four UK nations and their relationship to children's legislation and policy; 
  • To find examples of typical policies and good practices;
  • To evaluate opportunities for improving understanding and implementation of children's human rights across planning policies, including comparison of devolved contexts.

Project outputs:

Lead researchers:

Jenny Wood: Research Associate in the Institute for Social Policy, Housing and Equalities Research (I-SPHERE) at Heriot-Watt University; Co-founder and Chair of the Board of Trustees A Place in Childhood (APiC)
Dinah Bornat: ZCD Architects

Research managers:

Prof. Aude Bicquelet-Lock Deputy Head of Policy and Research

Sarah Lewis, MRTPI Planning Practice Officer


Understanding and Supporting the Play Experience in Cities

StepsThis project looks at the access to appropriate play spaces for children and assesses the 'play gap' in various cities. It builds upon ARUP's child-centred urban resilience framework to explore the impact of urban factors on the 'play gap' – an issue of increasing importance on the agenda of international organisations such as UNICEF. Although there is a wealth of evidence showing that unplanned or poorly planned urbanisation is a crucial factor in fuelling inequalities, there is currently limited evidence on the state of play in cities around the world, particularly on the role of the built environment in enabling and constraining access to outdoor play opportunities.


Research questions:

  • What are the emerging urban trends and their impact on play in cities?
  • Where are the opportunities to improve play in cities?
  • What are the barriers to play in urban settings?
  • What are the leading and lagging indicators of play in cities?


'The Urban Play Framework' (UPF) will be a tool to assess and understand the complexity of play in cities, identify play interventions, and measure specific outcomes we aim to achieve. The UPF may be structured as key goals or targets and will include quantitative, qualitative, and spatial indicators.


The Real Play Coalition (RPC) – ARUP, IKEA, the LEGO Foundation, National Geographic and Unilever).

Research Manager:

Dr. Michele Vianello: International Policy and Research Officer

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