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Playing Fields Continue to be Protected

We safeguard England's playing fields – helping to make sport and physical activity accessible for all.

New figures show that we've protected or improved sports provision in 93% of planning applications affecting playing fields.

We're a statutory consultee for local councils on any planning application that would affect or lead to the loss of a sports playing field.

Unless a developer can prove their proposal will improve or protect sports provision at the site, then we object to the plan.

For the period between April 2016 and March 2017, 1,102 out of 1,187 planning applications affecting playing fields resulted in improved or protected sports provision.

The figures also showed that:

  • In 41% of the cases where we originally objected to an application, further negotiations led to an overall improvement in sports provision. 
  • Of the 146 applications where we maintained our objection, 61 were either withdrawn by the applicants or refused planning permission.

Our head of planning, Nick Evans, said: “Playing fields are often the place where children and young people have their first experience of sport.

“They are at the heart of grassroots sport and are vital for getting the nation active. I am pleased this year’s figures show playing fields are being protected right across the country.

“At a time where pressure on land is high, it is important that we continue to protect these fields.”

As of 10 December 2018, our Active Places data shows that across England there are 22,155 playing field sites, containing a total of 70,381 pitches.

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