Playing fields continue to be protected

We safeguard England's playing fields – helping to make sport and physical activity accessible for all

11 December 2018 News Facilities Planning Research

New figures show that we've protected or improved sports provision in 93% of planning applications affecting playing fields.

We're a statutory consultee for local councils on any planning application that would affect or lead to the loss of a sports playing field.

Unless a developer can prove their proposal will improve or protect sports provision at the site, then we object to the plan.

For the period between April 2016 and March 2017, 1,102 out of 1,187 planning applications affecting playing fields resulted in improved or protected sports provision.

The figures also showed that:

  • In 41% of the cases where we originally objected to an application, further negotiations led to an overall improvement in sports provision. 
  • Of the 146 applications where we maintained our objection, 61 were either withdrawn by the applicants or refused planning permission.

Our head of planning, Nick Evans, said: “Playing fields are often the place where children and young people have their first experience of sport.

"I am pleased this year’s figures show that the places where people get active are being protected right across the country.

"Protecting grassroots sport provision is at the heart of what we continue to do so that all of us have access to the right sporting facilities."

As of 10 December 2018, our Active Places data shows that across England there are 22,155 playing field sites, containing a total of 70,381 pitches.

Making a difference

The Nigel Fanshawe Sports Hall at King Edward VI School, Chelmsford

New Sports Hall at King Edward VI School

The Nigel Fanshawe Sports Hall at King Edward VI School, Chelmsford

New Sports Hall at King Edward VI School

The Nigel Fanshawe Sports Hall at King Edward VI School, Chelmsford

New Sports Hall at King Edward VI School

In many cases, we not only secured playing fields but improved the facilities.

This was the case at King Edward VI Grammar School in Chelmsford, Essex, when we were contacted by the school for some pre-application advice.

We put the school in contact with Chelmsford City Council’s leisure team at an early stage, so that consideration could be given to how the facility could meet local community needs.

A need was subsequently identified for a sports hall suitable for meeting indoor cricket needs and the school worked with the England and Wales Cricket Board through the detailed design stage to ensure that the specifications met their guidance for indoor cricket.

As a result, a community use agreement for the sports hall and multi-activity room was secured.

The hall is now used for a range of activities by both the school and community, including cricket, basketball and netball.