Playing Field's safeguards working

27 November 2012 Research

Figures released today show playing fields throughout the country are being protected thanks to Sport England's role as a statutory consultee on planning applications.

1373 out of 1460 concluded planning applications affecting playing fields in 2010/11 resulted in improved or safeguarded sports provision.

Councils are required to consult Sport England on any proposed development that would affect or lead to the loss of a sports playing field. Sport England objects to all applications unless the developer can prove it will improve or protect sports provision.

The figures released by Sport England show:

  • 94% of concluded planning applications resulted in improved or safeguarded sports provision
  • In 53% of the cases where Sport England originally objected to an application, further negotiations led to an overall improvement in sports provision
  • Of the 211 applications where we sustained our objection, 70 were either withdrawn by the applicants or refused planning permission.
  • Despite formal objections from Sport England, the number of applications which led to a detrimental impact on sport was 87 (6%).

Richard Lewis, Sport England's Chair, said: “Playing fields are where many people have their first sporting experience and protecting them is vital if we are to deliver a lasting legacy throughout the country from the London 2012 Games. I'm pleased the latest figures again show that the safeguards we have in place are working and allowing people to continue enjoying sport."

“As well as our statutory consultee role on playing fields, we are also ensuring people will continue to have places to play sport through our Protecting Playing Fields fund. As part of our Olympic legacy programme, Places People Play, this fund is protecting and improving hundreds of playing fields across the country, making sure people have high-quality spaces to play sport for generations to come.”

Sport England's Protecting Playing Fields fund has already protected and improved over 500 pitches and nearly 1,900 acres in England and led to the purchase of over 57 acres of land for the benefit of sport. Many more playing fields are set to benefit from a further £4 million of investment over two remaining funding rounds, with the next round opening for bids before Christmas.

This is in addition to Sport England's statutory protection of playing fields, which was reaffirmed through the Government's National Planning Policy Framework, published earlier this year.