The initiatives will be taken forward in three key measures in a
co-ordinated approach by the department of education and employment,
the department of environment, transport and the regions and the
- tightening planning controls in respect of development on all local authority-owned playing fields where the English Sports Council advises against the proposals
- introducing new legislation to require all maintained schools to see consent for the sale of playing fields
- sending a clear message to all local education authorities to discourage them from selling off land before these measures become law
Deputy prime minister John Prescott said:
'Playing fields are vital for the quality of life in our
communities. Once developed they are lost forever. In some cases the
Sports Council and local planning authorities disagree on whether
developing a local authority-owned playing field would result in a
local shortage. In these cases I propose to ask local planning
authorities to refer the matter to me to decide whether to leave it
to them or whether I should take the decision. I will shortly be
writing to consult them on my proposal.'
Education and employment secretary David Blunkett said:
'All school pupils deserve access to proper sports facilities.
Today we are delivering on that commitment. The new clause which we
are introducing to the School Standards and Framework Bill will give
me new power to determine the sale of playing fields proposed by
'With this power I will ensure that those playing fields
which schools and their local communities need are not sold in
Secretary of state for culture, media and sport Chris Smith
'I am delighted that we have been able to fulfil another
manifesto commitment. Playing fields provide a vital recreational
resource for schools and local communities. Too many have been lost
in recent years and grass roots sports have suffered as a result.
These measures will provide a rigorous test for every application to
sell or redevelop a playing field and give ministers an opportunity
to intervene in cases where the interests of school children and
local people are not being fully considered.'
1. The secretary of state for the environment, transport and the
regions will shortly be writing to all local planning authorities
today to inform them of the proposed arrangements for notifying him
of any proposal to develop a playing field owned by the local
authority, or the local education authority if different, where the
Sports Council has objected on the grounds that there is, or would be
as a result of its development, a deficiency of playing field
provision in that area, but where the local planning authority
propose to allow the development.
2. The secretary of state has powers under the Planning Acts to
call-in cases. His policy is to use these powers sparingly and
selectively. This will continue to be the case.
3. The effect of the proposed arrangements would be that the local
planning authority, before granting planning permission will
need to notify the secretary of state, who will then have to
decide within 21 days whether he is content for the local planning
authority to make the decision or whether he wishes to call in
the case for his own determination.