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Latest statistics show commitment to protecting playing fields

More than 90% of all concluded planning applications including a playing field saw the facility maintained or improved.

14th December 2021

New figures released today show we’ve protected more than 1,000 playing fields across the year to April 2020 as we continue our ongoing mission to get the nation more active.

Our role as a statutory consultee on planning applications means work to protect playing fields is a key part of our remit.

Across the period of April 2019-March 2020, 94% of all concluded planning applications involving a playing field resulted in the protection, or improvement of, facilities.

A coach instructs three young boys how to play tag rugby, on an open playing field

As part of planning processes, councils are required to refer cases to Sport England 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’ll improve or protect community sports provision.  

Today’s data shows we continue to act to protect and enhance playing fields across the country.

The data shows:

  • 94% (1,028 out of 1,093) of concluded planning applications affecting playing fields resulted in improved or protected sports provision
  • in 34% of the cases where Sport England originally objected to an application, further negotiations led to an overall improvement in sports provision
  • of the 127 applications where we maintained our objection, 62 were either withdrawn by the applicants or refused planning permission.

Our head of planning, Nick Evans, said: “The figures released today once again highlight Sport England’s commitment to protecting and enhancing playing fields which help people get active.

“Whether used by children for a kick around or by adults out for a walk or run, playing fields play a crucial role in helping people of all ages and abilities to get active, while also helping connect our communities and bring people together through sport.

“In October 2020, 62% of the population visited green and natural spaces for health and wellbeing.

“Playing fields are a vital part of those spaces, and our continued work to protect and enhance such spaces is more important than ever, especially in light of the ongoing pandemic and the challenges it poses to us all.”

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