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Playing fields are being safeguarded across England

Words: Laura Edgar
Playing field / iStock-700636994

New figures have suggested that playing fields across the country are being protected when planning applications come forward for permission.

This is according to public body Sport England.

It said its role as a statutory consultee saw 1,138 out of 1,200 (95 per cent) concluded planning applications that affected playing fields in 2015/16 improved or safeguarded sports provision.

Councils are required to consult Sport England on a development that would affect or lead to the loss of a sports playing field.

The public body said it objects to all such applications unless the developer can prove it will improve or protect sport provision.

According to Sport England’s figures, in 2015/16 46 per cent of cases where Sport England originally objected to an application, its intervention and further negotiations led to an overall improvement in sports provision.

Of the 120 applications where Sport England sustained objections, 49 were either withdrawn by the applicants or refused planning permission.

Local authorities approved 62 applications (5 per cent) despite Sport England objections.

Sport England property director Charles Johnston said: “Playing fields are a vital part of grassroots sport as they are often the place where young people have their first experience of sport and develop habits that will help keep them active through life. That is why our statutory role is so important. I’m pleased the latest figures show that the safeguards we have in place are continuing to work.”

Sport England’s Active Places data shows that across England there are 21,866 playing field sites, containing a total of 70,381 pitches.

Image credit | iStock