Artificial sports surfaces

This guide covers the design and selection of material for a range of outdoor sports using artificial grass pitches, needle punch play surfaces, and polymeric surfaces

It replaces our original design guides Multi-Use Games Areas Volumes 1 to 3. 

  • Artificial surfaces for outdoor sports

This guide (updated December 2013) covers design issues for a wide range of outdoor sport spaces including:

  • Pitches
  • Single-sports-use courts
  • Multi-use games areas (MUGAs) with artificial surfaces constructed from various combinations of man-made materials.

It focuses on making the best use of these facilities, whether they are based in new or existing schools, local parks, sports clubs or as part of larger regeneration projects.

  • Selecting the right artificial surface

This guidance note (revision two) has been developed by:

  • Sport England 
  • England Hockey Board 
  • Football Association 
  • Football Foundation 
  • Rugby Football League 
  • Rugby Football Union.

It provides a simple, consistent methodology and approach to selecting the right type of artificial grass surface for playing hockey, football, rugby union and rugby league.

Revision two includes an updated document to reflect comments regarding long pile surfaces.

  • Comparative sizes of sports pitches and courts

This updated guidance (2015), now with separate documents for indoor and outdoor sports, is intended to give an overview comparison of space requirements for an extended range of sports and reflect the most up-to-date NGB facility requirements. These documents have been fully endorsed by the NGBs at the time of publication.

Artificial Grass Pitch layouts

Downloadable layouts or plans of artificial grass pitches (updated October 2013). The plans are currently only available in Adobe Reader (pdf) format.

  • Artificial Grass Pitch (AGP) Acoustics - Planning Implications

The purpose of this guidance document is to develop a consistent approach to understanding the noise assessments required in the development of AGP facilities as well as noise limits imposed by local planning authorities.

It is important that the potential for disturbance to neighbours is considered at an early stage in the planning and design of AGP facilities to limit the imposition of planning conditions, which might make a scheme unviable, and to avoid possible refusal of planning permission.

  • Briefing note: Recycling of Artificial Grass Carpets

This note (February 2014) provides advice on artificial grass carpet life expectancy, removal, potential re-use for sports applications and post-flooding issues.

  • Briefing note: Artificial Flat Green Bowls

This note (March 2013) provides advice to managers of bowling greens on: 

  • When installing an artificial surface is required
  • Performance standards
  • Construction and scope of work
  • Available surfaces
  • Certification and budget examples
  • Maintenance once the surface has been laid.

Case studies

These case studies highlight examples of good quality sports facilities that have made effective use of their artificial surfaces, including:

  • Coram's Field, London – AGP modernisation (completed 2013) – example of the modernisation of an artificial pitch to 3G long pile carpet. Works carried out and managed by our Framework Contractor and Consultants
  • Gloucester – Blackbridge Athletics Track (completed 2012) – refurbishment of an existing athletics track, including repositioning of the long/triple jump runway, widening of the main straight to eight lanes, replacement of the porous artificial surfacing to the track, new throwing cage, refurbished shot put facilities, and installation of new sports lighting
  • London – Ravenscourt Park (completed 2012) – this project, located in the existing Ravenscourt Park in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, involved construction of basketball and netball facilities around a mature tree, together with seating for spectators and participants
  • Lilleshall National Sports Centre – Hockey Pitches (completed Nov 2014) – two water based artificial grass hockey pitches, both with irrigation and lighting, have been built side-by-side on a greenfield site at the centre
  • Leicestershire - Sileby Memorial Park (completed 2014) – this project saw the refurbishment and extension of a concrete skatepark originally constructed in 2004 to create a legacy from the debut of BMX as a new Olympic sport at the London 2012 Games.