Sport England updates guidance on playing field planning applications

Sport England has updated and relaunched its guidance on playing fields planning applications, with the aim of further protecting the public spaces in which people get physically active.

It is the first major update to the guidance since it was first published in 1997, when planning authorities were made to consult Sport England on applications which affect playing field land.

"By providing clearer and more detailed advice, the updated guidance will help applicants, local planning authorities and other parties understand our role and how we assess applications, along with the information we require,” said Sport England’s property director Charles Johnston.

Sport England’s policy is to object to applications unless they meet one of five specific exceptions – such as the proposals improving the use of a playing field, or a replacement playing field land being provided as part of the plans.

The new version of the guidance, published earlier this month, has updated the wording and details for the five objections, bringing them “in line with modern planning practices”.

Additional detail has also been provided on consulting Sport England, including highlighting the importance of early engagement and the information Sport England recommends is provided to enable it to adequately assess an application.

Johnston added: "Where necessary we'll object to applications, but we would much prefer to work collaboratively with applicants from the outset to look for opportunities to protect and enhance provision that make the process smoother, swifter and produces better results for everyone.”

First published by Tom Walker, 21 March 2018 on