Sport England
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Continued commitment to protecting playing fields

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

New figures released yesterday show we protected more than 900 playing fields between April 2020 and March 2021. 

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

Across this time period, 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 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 will 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: 

  • 95% (930 out of 978) of concluded planning applications affecting playing fields resulted in improved or safeguarded sports provision 
  • Of the 109 applications where Sport England maintained its objection, 61 (56%) were either withdrawn by the applicants or refused planning permission 
  • In 58% of the cases where Sport England 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 again highlight Sport England’s unwavering commitment to protecting and enhancing playing fields across England.  

"This is pivotal given community playing fields help people of all ages and abilities to get active, connecting our communities and bringing people together through the joy of movement.  

"However, our commitment doesn’t start and end with our statutory role. Earlier this year we announced an investment of over £15m into the Football Foundation, with this funding targeted at helping to further improve pitches in places where they can have the biggest impact.”

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