Forward planning and objectives

The Government's National Planning Policy Framework is clear about the role that sport plays in delivering sustainable communities

Working with the provisions of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and through promoting health and wellbeing, we wish to see local planning policy protect, enhance and provide for sports facilities based on robust and up-to-date assessments of need, as well as helping to realise the wider benefits that taking part in sport can bring.

Delivering sport and activity

By promoting a forward planning approach to the provision of facilities and opportunities to participate in sport, we add value to the work of others and help to deliver sustainable development goals. We achieve this through:

  • Recognising and taking full advantage of the unique role of sport and physical activity in contributing to a wide array of policy and community aspirations, including leisure, health, and education
  • Using sport and activity as a fundamental part of the planning and delivery of sustainable communities
  • The development of partnership working using sport and active recreation as a common interest.

In line with the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (paragraph 73), we advocate that at the core of planning for sport should be a robust and up-to-date assessment of the needs for sport and recreational facilities as well as opportunities for new provision.

The results of the assessment should be developed into a clear strategy for meeting the identified needs, integrated into forward planning and applied within development management.

By doing so, the planning system will be able to meet the requirements of the NPPF, secure the considerable benefits that positive planning for sport can provide, and help to meet our planning objectives.

Planning objectives

In practice, our planning objectives are to:

  1. Protect existing facilities: We seek to help protect sports and recreational buildings and land including playing fields. We expect these to be retained or enhanced as part of any redevelopment unless an assessment has demonstrated that there is an excess of provision and they are surplus to requirements, or clear evidence supports their relocation. We are a statutory consultee on all planning applications affecting playing field land and will object to such an application unless one of five exceptions applies.
  2. Enhance the quality, accessibility and management of existing facilities: We wish to see the best use made of existing sports facilities through improving their quality, access and management.We have developed a wide range of supporting advice on understanding and planning for facility provision, including efficient facility management such as community access to school sites.
  3. Provide new facilities to meet demand: We seek to ensure that communities have access to sufficient high quality sports facilities that are fit for purpose. Using evidence and advocacy, we help to guide investment into new facilities and the expansion of existing ones to meet new demands that cannot be met by existing provision.

Further information on our aims and objectives

Delivering sound policies

Sound policy can only be developed by objectively assessing needs, which in turn is used to inform the development of a strategy for sport and recreation. Policies which protect, enhance and provide for sports facilities should reflect this work, and be the basis for consistent application through development management.

Download our forward planning guide

We are not prescriptive on the precise form and wording of policies, but advise that a stronger plan will result from taking a clearly justified and positive approach to planning for sport.

A stronger plan will result from taking a clearly justified and positive approach to planning for sport

In this way, planning authorities will be able to demonstrate that their plan has been:

  • Positively prepared – based on objectively assessed needs
  • Is consistent with national policy – reflecting the NPPF
  • Is justified – having considered alternatives
  • Is effective – being deliverable.

Without such attention, there is a risk that a local plan or other policy document could be considered unsound.