Consultation opens to seek views on assessment of outdoor play provision across East Lothian
Local Authorities across Scotland are required to carry out a ‘Play Sufficiency Assessment’ (PSA) to identify and assess the opportunities for outdoor play, in both formal and informal settings, within their area.
East Lothian Council is one of the first local authorities to progress a PSA in order to assess the quantity, quality and accessibility of council owned and managed play spaces. The views of children and young people across East Lothian have been gathered as part of this process. In order to fully assess public perceptions of the quality, quantity and accessibility of council owned and managed play spaces across the county a consultation has now opened to gather views of local residents.
The resulting PSA will inform the Evidence Report for the next East Lothian Local Development Plan, and it is anticipated that future PSAs will be undertaken to coincide with future Local Development Planning processes.
East Lothian currently has 120 council owned and managed formal outdoor play spaces distributed across the county. Assessment of East Lothian’s formal outdoor play spaces took place over a period of five weeks in March and April 2023. All council owned and managed formal outdoor play spaces in East Lothian were assessed at least once. Play spaces that are not council owned or managed were not included in the assessment at this stage, as the council has no jurisdiction to improve or make recommendations for change in these spaces.
Children’s right to play is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Research has demonstrated both the individual and societal benefits of play for children and young people. It’s now known that play leads to a wide range of interconnected beneficial outcomes across the cognitive, physical, emotional and social developmental areas. It has also been shown that play has positive societal outcomes through building healthier and more tolerant societies.
The PSA identified that there is currently an excellent quantity of play provision in East Lothian, and a good range of physical and risky play opportunities. The PSA also identified important ways to strengthen the quality and accessibility of play opportunities in East Lothian where future funding opportunities could make this possible.
Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing, Cllr Colin McGinn, said: “Opportunities for play should be at the heart of all communities as it provides so many benefits for children and young people from helping to foster independence, developing imagination and resourcefulness to building friendships and confidence. East Lothian is fortunate to have many opportunities for informal play in our natural environment and greenspaces as well as structured formal play areas with assortments of equipment to enjoy. We are delighted that so many children and young people have already given us their views on play spaces across East Lothian.
“Although councils are currently facing numerous financial challenges, play opportunities are recognised as extremely important for child development and East Lothian Council works with a range of partners to secure funding for specific play-associated projects.
“This consultation aims to gather the views of individuals and interested groups such as Community Councils on the findings from our initial assessment of play provision in the county and I would encourage people to take part.”
The consultation is available online at: https://eastlothianconsultations.co.uk/housing-environment/play-sufficiency-assessment/ and paper copies will be available in local libraries.