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Designing cities for kids helps everyone. Here’s how to convince government

Better data and a child's eye view can be useful tools for building support high up

excerpt

Senior people in city government don’t always see why there is a need to modify public space for children. Mayors and public servants are judged, and returned to office, on “bigger” issues such as their economic record or whether the trains run on time. “It is hard to advocate for children and young people, because they don’t have a natural voice,” said Bornat.

Despite this, Bornat managed to convince the mayor of the East London borough of Hackney to commit to making the borough child-friendly by 2026. Local government will help manage public space for the benefit of children, while encouraging developers to build open spaces for them to congregate and play.

In a research project conducted in 2016, Bornat demonstrated that the approach improves lives. “We were able to show we could move away from anecdote and towards actual data and outcomes,” she said.

Bornat and her team analysed housing estates across England, mapping their layout and scoring them for their accessibility to children. They then observed how children used the space.

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ZCD Architects