Playing fields now enjoy the best protection ever through Government planning regulations and arrangements overseen by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Schools in England need permission from the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families before they can sell any school playing fields or any part of a school playing field.
Under planning guidance, local authorities are required to protect all open space which communities need. Sport England is a statutory consultee on all planning applications affecting local authority owned playing fields. The latest published statistics for 2007-08 show that out of 1,287 planning applications proposing development on playing fields referred to Sport England in 2007-08, 96.3 per cent. led to improved or protected sports provision.
From 6 April 2009, the protection the Government provide for larger playing fields was also extended to cover smaller fields.
As a result of this change a local authority now has to consult Sport England on any planning application in relation to playing fields where the playing field includes a playing pitch of 0.2 ha where the proposal is likely to prejudice the use or lead to the loss of use of land being used as a playing field.