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Significant areas for sport

About significant areas for sport

We believe it’s essential that outside the sporting world, decisions are not taken without the knowledge of how important a site is to the sport.

We've been concerned that there’s a lack of awareness of the most important sporting sites in England, and the significance these sites have to individual sports. There’s also a perception that strategic planning documents are poor at recognising our most important sporting sites.

The aim of significant areas for sport (SASPs) is to help ensure that our most important sporting sites are fully recognised for the part they play in the delivery of individual sports. These sites have been identified by the individual national governing bodies of sport in partnership with us, describe why the site is important to the sport, and identify what specific features make the site so special.

The SASP register is intended as recognition of the most important sporting sites in England, rather than being an at-risk record. There are two levels of SASP:

  • National SASP – sites which are of national importance to the sport
  • Regional SASP – sites which are of regional importance to the sport.

The list of SASPs is intended to be a living list, which will be reviewed periodically to ensure the most important sporting sites are included, and those that decline in importance are taken off.

Additional sports will be added as they're identified by the individual national governing bodies of sport.

Safeguarding two people paddling in canoe

Frequently asked questions

What criteria are used for identifying SASPs?

To be recognised as a SASP, sites must be nationally or regionally important to the sport in terms of a venue for major events, elite training, heritage, scarcity, uniqueness, importance for mass participation or non-competitive use.

Sites do not need to meet all criteria, but need to be nationally, or regionally important for the sport for one or more of the criteria.

The criteria should be adjusted to reflect the nature of the sport. For instance, the heritage value will differ between sports which are relatively 'young', to those sports which have been around for a long time.

  • National sites

    For sites to be designated a national SASP, they must meet one or more of the following criteria:

    Competitions/events

    The site has held international/national competitions or events and is sustainable in that it’s in a location which provides the support facilities/services necessary for that level of competition.

    Training

    The site has held national team or individual/group elite training for the sport or any of its disciplines. It's also sustainable in that it’s in a location that provides the support facilities/services necessary for that level of training.

    Scarcity

    The site is important because of its scarcity or rarity/uniqueness value and because it cannot be recreated at a different location.

    Heritage

    The site is important in heritage terms due to the longevity and continuity of use in that location by the sport and because it cannot be recreated at a different location.

    Non-competitive users

    The site is important to the non-competitive parts of the sport.

    Number of users

    The site is important because of the numbers of participants from any level of the sport using it.

    Facilities strategy

    The site has been identified as of international/national importance in the sport’s strategic planning documents.

    Physical characteristics

    Identification of those characteristics, which if lost, would jeopardise the quality of the site.

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  • Regional sites

    For sites to be designated a regional SASP, they must meet one or more of the following criteria:

    Competitions/events

    The site has held regional championships or events and an inter-regional standard of competition or event. Additionally, it’s sustainable in that it’s in a location that provides the support facilities/services necessary for that level of competition or event.

    Training

    The site has held regional team training or events, or individual elite training or participation for the sport or any of its disciplines. It’s also sustainable in that it’s in a location that provides the support facilities/services necessary for that level of training or event.

    Scarcity

    The site is the only facility or resource for participation in the sport or any of its disciplines, or one of a limited number of facilities, in the region.

    Heritage

    The site is important due to the longevity and continuity of use in that location by the sport and because it cannot be recreated at a different location.

    Non-competitive users

    The site is important to the non-competitive parts of the sport.

    Facilities strategy

    The site has been identified as being regionally important in the sport’s strategic development plan documents.

    Physical characteristics

    Identification of those characteristics, which if lost, would jeopardise the quality of the site.

    Number of users

    The site is important because of the numbers of people using it from any level of the sport.

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  • How will SASPs be used?

    Listing our most important sporting sites and detailing why they're important, ensures that discussions that could affect these sites are not taken without the knowledge and understanding of their importance and significance to sport.

    While SASP is not an ‘at risk’ register of sites, SASP recognition will give additional weight to the site's protection if it becomes under threat.

    We’ll promote the awareness of SASPs among partners and agencies that are producing strategic plans. These will include spatial development strategies, local plans, management plans and sports development plans. 

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  • What is SASPs status?

    SASPs do not carry a statutory status. However, they do carry the weight of being identified by the national governing bodies of sport as the most important sites for their sports, while also being acknowledged and supported by us.

  • What sports are covered?

    The designation of SASPs can be applied to all sports. However, it’s recognised as being more appropriate for sports that rely on natural environment locations due to their uniqueness and scarcity. Currently, SASPs have been identified for canoeing, gliding, water-skiing and parachuting.

  • Who decides if a site is a SASP?

    The sport's national governing body (NGB) identifies sites that meet the designation criteria for nationally and regionally important SASPs. We, in partnership with the NGB, verify that the sites meet the criteria. Once agreed, the site is then added to SASP register – this can be downloaded below.

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