“Lively” and traffic-free public spaces need to become commonplace in Leeds city centre to create a better environment for youngsters.
That was the message from the keynote speaker at an event celebrating the fifth anniversary of Child Friendly Leeds – a drive from the city council and 700 ambassadors to make a better area for young people and give them a say about how it is run.
Tim Gill is an advocate for child-friendly urban planning and design who runs the website Rethinking Childhood.
Speaking at the Queens Hotel event today, he said: “Compared to a lot of other cities Leeds has got further to go to manage cars.
“If you design and make your city centre for cars it will not be nice for people – it just won’t.”
He told attendees that Sheffield had “moved heaven and earth” to create a child-friendly city, with large pedestrian-only zones such as Peace Gardens.
The event was also an opportunity for school pupils to share ideas for how to make the city a better place for everyone.
Ten winning plans were chosen from more than 300 entries.
One winner, Ella Thornton, nine, of St Joseph’s Primary School in Otley wants to charge people £1 entry for a Harry Potter-themed park.
The proceeds would then go back into the community.
She said: “There will be a place to learn spells and play Quidditch, and a ride where you sit on brooms. I’ll give the money to other people to make their lives better.”
The Lord Mayor, Coun Jane Dowson, and the Leeds Children’s Mayor, Grace Branfield, cut a fifth birthday cake, which Farnley Academy helped make alongside the city centre’s Colbys Coffee shop.
Business leaders then got together to brainstorm ways of actually achieving some of the ideas over afternoon tea.
Coun Dowson said: “To celebrate the fifth anniversary and see so many ambassadors here is absolutely fantastic.”