Playing field land

Playing fields are one of the most important resources for sport in England

They provide the valuable space required to maintain and enhance opportunities for people to take part both in formal team sports and in other more informal activities.

Along with sporting benefits, good quality, accessible playing fields also contribute to maintaining active and healthy communities and securing wider reaching benefits.

Planning applications affecting playing field land

Since 1996, we have been a statutory consultee on all planning applications for development affecting playing field land. This requires local planning authorities to consult us when a relevant planning application is received. Our comments should then be taking into account prior to them making any decision whether or not to grant planning permission.

This requirement is set out by the Government in Statutory Instrument 2015/595 and their Planning Practice Guidance.

Depending on the nature of the application, we will inform the relevant sports national governing bodies of the proposals and seek their comments prior to submitting a response to the local planning authority.

It is our policy to oppose any planning application which will result in the loss of playing field land unless it is satisfied that the application meets with one or more of five specific exceptions. The gist of these exceptions is incorporated within paragraph 74 of the Government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Playing Fields Policy

Our Playing Fields Policy is set out in our ‘Planning Policy Statement – A Sporting Future for the Playing Fields of England’. Links to this document, an information requirements checklist and key questions we would be likely to ask when considering an application against any of the five exceptions, are provided below.

Links are also provided to a technical briefing note setting out how the quality of pitches should be assessed when assessing any proposed replacement provision against Exception 4, and to a document detailing responses to some frequently asked questions regarding our role and policy.

Download our Planning Policy Statement

If a local planning authority is minded to grant planning permission for an application, despite receiving an objection from us, then the requirements of The Town and Country Planning (Consultation) (England) Direction 2009 may apply.

This instructs local planning authorities to notify the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government of an application if the land is owned by a local authority or used by an educational establishment (currently or within the five years prior to receiving the application), and where we have objected due to a current or resulting deficiency of playing field land in the area or because the replacement to be provided in inadequate.  

Further details on this Direction are provided within the Government's Planning Practice Guidance.

Playing pitch strategies

We believe that the best way to protect and improve the provision of playing fields is for a local area to have an up-to-date and adopted Playing Pitch Strategy in place. The starting point for assessing the vast majority of planning applications affecting playing field land should therefore be to look at how the proposals fit with the local Playing Pitch Strategy.

The following link provides guidance on developing a Playing Pitch Strategy and our knowledge of the coverage of such strategies across the country.

Download our Playing Pitch Strategy Guidance