Skip to content

More than 1,000 playing fields protected

Our role as a statutory consultee saw 95% of all concluded planning applications involving playing fields result in the protection or improvement of facilities.

12th December 2023

New figures released today show we protected more than 1,000 playing fields in England between April 2021 and March 2022.

Our role as a statutory consultee on planning applications means work to protect playing fields, which are vital spaces for communities to get active in, is part of our mission to get the nation more active.

This continued commitment to protect and enhance playing fields across the country resulted in 1,073 being protected. 

A playing field with a grass running track on it

For the period in question, 95% of all concluded planning applications involving a playing field resulted in the protection or improvement of facilities.  

As part of planning processes, councils are required to refer cases to us when any proposed development 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 community sports provision.

The data shows:

  • 95% (1,073 out of 1,120) of concluded planning applications affecting playing fields resulted in improved or safeguarded sports provision. 
  • Of the 121 applications where we maintained our objection, 74 (61%) were either withdrawn by the applicants or refused planning permission. 
  • In 59% of the cases where we originally objected to an application, further negotiations led to an overall improvement in sports provision. 

Our head of planning, Nick Evans, said: 

“The figures released today once again highlight Sport England’s firm commitment to protecting and enhancing playing fields across England. 

“Playing fields are critical for supporting local communities to take part in sport and physical activity, allowing them to reap the benefits of movement for their physical and mental health.  

“They continue to play an integral part in our work supporting government to get 3.5 million more people active by 2030.” 

Sign up to our newsletter

You can find out exactly how we'll look after your personal data, but rest assured we’ll only use it to make sure you receive our newsletter, to understand how you interact with our newsletter, and to provide administrative information about our newsletter.