Reminder: Restriction on Ball-Sports

With the return of Summer (albeit a somewhat dissapointing one), Gloucester Square has seen an uptick in young children playing ball games, especially football, in the Garden.

Unfortunately the Garden Committee has recieved complaints that many of these groups have failed to obey the Garden Rules with regards to ball sports, specifically that they are only permitted for children under 12, and only lightweight plastic / foam balls should be used.

The purpose of this page is to explain the background of the Garden’s current rules, and provide links to appropriate types of balls for games in the Garden.

For the avoidance of doubt – the Garden Committee are committed to allowing young residents and their friends to play in the Garden – so do not propose returning to an outright ban on ballsports. Instead, the committee will deal with breaches on a case-by-case basis with the keyholders concerned (as with all rules, continued non-adherance may result in a suspension of access).

Examples of Permitted Sports Balls for Games in the Garden (with purchase links):

Examples of Prohibited Sports Balls:

Any balls used for (or closely resembling balls used for) competitive sport are forbidden in the Garden. This includes (but is not exclusive to) leather/stiched footballs/basketballs or sythetic equivilants, rubber tennis balls, gof balls, hard cricket balls/baseballs and american footballs / rugby balls.

No Regular Footballs, Basketballs, Volley Balls, etc
No Mini Sports Balls (made from the same materials as regular sports balls)
No Pressurised Rubber Balls (Tennis Balls, etc)
No Hard Balls for Batting sports (Baseballs, Cricket Balls, Golf Balls)
No Regular Throwing Balls / Rugby Balls

In The Past: No Ball Games Were Allowed

Longstanding residents of Gloucester Square will recall that for many years ball games were strictly prohibitied in the Garden, indeed this is still inscribed on the Garden Gates’ signs (installed c.2010) and further signage reinforcing this policy renains in storage in the Garden’s shed.

Similar policies remain in place in many London Squares, often citing the 3 Ds:
  • Disruption that ball sports can subject other residents of the Garden to (i.e. causing significant noise and consuming a disproportionate amount of space in a shared garden)
  • Danger rogue footballs / cricket balls pose to the youngest and more elderly residents
  • Damage caused to Garden features, particularly flowerbeds, by hard/heavy balls (particularly footballs)
Previous Gloucester Square Garden Committees have tried adjusting these rules to make the Garden a more welcoming environment for young children without compromising on the 3 Ds associated with ball spots, though it remains a contentious topic.
The most recent example was a prohibition on “competitive” Ball Sports; though this proved impossible to enforce – as “competitive” was seemingly open to interpretation.

2022 Onwards: Lightweight Plastic/Foam Balls for Children under 12 only.

In 2022, the newly appointed committee revised the Garden Rules to clarify the playing of ball sports, having reviewed best-practice in other Garden Squares.

Ball Games are only allowed for children under the age of 12, providing lightweight plastic/foam balls are used.

This along with the remainder of the Garden Rules are clearly listed on the Garden Gates.

Older children are allowed to participate in younger children’s games providing they are not using their full physicality and playing in a manner appropriate for children under the age of 12. Older children looking to play more competitively are asked to seek out more adequate spaces for such ball games,  (including the nearby Hyde Park).

The committee considers this approach, on balance, the best way of tackling the 3 Ds:

  • Disruption: Lightweight balls do not travel as far when kicked/hit, bounce less, and make less noise. They are therefore less likely to disrupt another user’s quiet enjoyment of the garden (a contractual right under the Gloucester Square Estate Management Scheme).
  • Danger: Lightweight balls pose less danger to other users of the garden if accidently they are accidently hit.
  • Damage: Not only are Lightweight balls less likely to travel into the flower bed,  they are far less likely to damage the plants they come in contact with.

Another signposted rule in the Garden is that “Personal Items must not be left unattended in the Garden for more than 2hrs. After 2hrs such items may be removed and destroyed without notice or liability.”

Unfortunately many of our younger residents seem to have taken to leaving prohibittied football in the Garden/Lawn. All such items are removed by the Gardeners, and destroyed after a matter of weeks.

If you have “lost” a football from the Garden recently, please Contact Us as quickly as possible to try and retrieve said football (if termporarily removed to storage).

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