Further playing fields safeguarded

We continue to protect the nation’s playing fields – places that are crucial for sport and activity to thrive

07 December 2017

A cricketer bats a ball on a playing field

Our new figures reveal that our role as a statutory consultee on planning applications has protected 1,138 out of 1,200 playing fields. In many cases, we not only secured playing fields but improved the facilities.

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

Our figures show that in 2015/16:

  • 95% of concluded planning applications resulted in improved or safeguarded sports provision
  • In 46% of cases where we originally objected to an application, our intervention and further negotiations led to an overall improvement of the site
  • Of the 120 applications where we objected to applications, 49 were either withdrawn by the applicants or refused planning permission
  • Despite our objections during the planning process, 62 applications (5%) were approved by local planning authorities.   

“Playing fields are a vital part of grassroots sport as they are often the place where young people have their first experience of sport and develop habits that will help keep them active through life,” says our property director Charles Johnston. “That is why our statutory role is so important. I’m pleased the latest figures show that the safeguards we have in place are continuing to work.” 

Our Active Places data shows that across England there are 21,866 playing fields, containing a total of 70,381 pitches used for sports such as football, rugby and cricket.