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Planning for sport

The planning system plays a crucial role in providing access to high-quality facilities so everyone can play sport and be physically active.

We want to help the planning system provide formal and informal opportunities for everyone to take part in sport and be physically active. As part of this effort, we’ve produced the Planning for Sport Guidance. 

The downloadable document below is ideal for anyone involved in, or looking to engage with, the planning system in England.

This includes local authority officers and councillors, planning inspectors, developers and consultants, through to parish/town councils, neighbourhood forums, public health leads, sports clubs/organisations, community groups and individuals.

Young fencers watch a contest

12 planning for sport principles

Included within the guidance are 12 planning for sport principles. Applicable at all levels of the planning system, the principles will help enable and support healthy lifestyles, deliver community and cultural facilities and services to meet local needs, and give everyone the chance to get active.

The 12 principles are split into four categories: overarching, protect, enhance and provide:


1. Recognise and give significant weight to the benefits of sport and physical activity.

2. Undertake, maintain and apply robust and up-to-date assessments of need and strategies for sport and physical activity provision, and base policies, decisions and guidance upon them.

3. Plan, design and maintain buildings, developments, facilities, land and environments that enable people to lead active lifestyles.


4. Protect and promote existing sport and physical activity provision and ensure new development does not prejudice its use.

5. Ensure long-term, viable management and maintenance of new and existing sport and physical activity provision.


6. Support improvements to existing sport and physical activity provision where they’re needed.

7. Encourage and secure wider community use of new and existing sport and physical activity provision.


8. Support new provision, including allocating new sites for sport and physical activity which meets identified needs.

9. Ensure a positive approach to meeting the needs generated by new development for sport and physical activity provision.

10. Provide sport and physical activity provision which is fit for purpose and well designed.

11. Plan positively for sport and physical activity provision in designated landscapes and the green belt. 

12. Proactively address any amenity issues arising from sport and physical activity developments.

Please note that this guidance will be updated when required to reflect updates to government planning policy and guidance and feedback received. Any feedback or suggested amendments/updates can be shared by emailing us.

The design of where we live and work plays a vital role in encouraging activity in our everyday lives.

Learn more about Active Design

Additional planning tools

Active Places Power

Active Places Power is designed to guide investment decisions and develop sports facility strategies, while the Active Places Data Platform is the national sport facility database.

Active Places Power

Community Use Agreements

We’re keen to encourage increasing the availability of sports facilities to the wider community when they’re not being utilised by the main user.

Community Use Agreements

Facilities Planning Model

The Facilities Planning Model is a computer model that helps to assess the strategic provision of community sports facilities. 

Facilities Planning Model

Significant areas for sport

The aim of significant areas for sport is to help ensure our most important sporting sites are fully recognised for the part they play in the delivery of individual sports.

Significant areas for sport

Sports Facility Calculator

The Sports Facility Calculator can help estimate the additional demand for key community sports facilities from a new population.

Sports Facility Calculator

Playing Pitch Calculator

This tool can help local authorities estimate the additional demand for the use of playing pitches from a new population.

Playing Pitch Calculator

Community Infrastructure Levy and Planning Obligations Advice Note

Advice on meeting the needs for sport that may be generated from a new development.

CIL and Planning Obligations Advice Note

Artificial Grass Pitches Acoustics Planning Implications Guide

Details of the acoustic implications associated with artificial grass pitches and measures to reduce noise.

AGP acoustics planning implications

Sports Club Planning Application Guide

A step-by-step guide for sports clubs making a planning application.

Sports Club Planning Application Guide

Contact our planning team

We have a network of town planners working across the country.

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