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School Playing Fields

Volume 405: debated on Thursday 22 May 2003

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What policy his Department has on the sale of school playing fields. [115008]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Skills
(Mr. Stephen Twigg)

We are committed to protecting school playing fields, which is why we introduced legislation in 1998 to stop uncontrolled sell-offs. I will shortly be placing in the Library a portfolio that sets out our policy, and which lists those applications that have been allowed and have resulted in the loss of land capable of forming a school sports pitch.

May I raise two concerns with my hon. Friend—about London local authorities selling school playing fields in other local authority areas; and about school extensions that are encroaching, a victim of success, on to school playing fields? Is my hon. Friend confident that the current guidance is strong enough to deal with all eventualities?

I am confident that guidance is strong enough, though we must keep it under review. We have said that we want to stop the previous Government's policy of forcing schools to sell off their playing fields. Approval is now given only when the remaining playing fields and sports facilities meet the needs of local schools and local communities. We have also introduced the requirement that, when a sale takes place, all its proceeds go to sports provision or education. I am sure that all will welcome that.