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Sport England protected 900 playing fields in first year of pandemic

95% (930 out of 978) of concluded planning applications affecting playing fields resulted in improved or safeguarded sports provision (Credit: Sport England)

New figures released show that Sport England protected more than 900 playing fields between April 2020 and March 2021.

The sports body is a statutory consultee on planning applications and, as a result, local authorities and 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.

According to Sport England, 95% of all concluded planning applications which involved a playing field during the period (April 2020 – March 2021) resulted in the protection, or improvement of, facilities.

“The data shows we continue to act to protect and enhance playing fields across the country,” said Sport England’s head of planning, Nick Evans.

“We object to all applications unless the developer can prove it will improve or protect community sports provision.

“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.”

Figures from Sport England show that of the 109 planning applications where Sport England maintained its objection, 61 (56%) were either withdrawn by the applicants or refused planning permission.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.

To access the full report, click here.

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