asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they will publish the guidelines regulating the sale of school, local authority and private playing fields; and [HL7183]
What consideration is given by the Department for Education and Skills to consent requests for the disposal of playing fields which are up to 0.2 hectares and used for team games.[HL7186]
The department's guidance 1017-2004, The Protection of School Playing Fields and Land for Academies, which was published in November 2004, sets out the main circumstances in which local authorities and governing bodies of schools need to seek the consent of the Secretary of State to dispose, or change the use, of school playing fields. The guidance also describes how the Secretary of State will assess all applications that involve the disposal, or change of use, of such land, whatever its size. Copies of the guidance can be downloaded from the department's website at www.teachernet.gov.uk/schoolslandandproperty.
Since July 2001, all applications to dispose of school playing fields have been scrutinised by the independent School Playing Fields Advisory Panel. The panel was set up to advise the Secretary of State on the extent to which applications meet the published criteria. The panel comprises representatives from the National Playing Fields Association, the Central Council of Physical Recreation, Learning through Landscapes, the National Association of Head Teachers and the Local Government Association. So far, the panel has scrutinised 242 applications that involve the disposal of school playing fields. The number of applications considered by the panel in each financial year is: 2001-02, 51; 2002-03, 68; 2003-04, 33; 2005-06, 36; and 12 so far this financial year.
Any development on playing fields measuring 0.4 hectares or over is subject to statutory consultation with Sport England. The Department for Communities and Local Government intends to extend this consultation requirement in relation to playing fields measuring 0.2 hectares or over and will include this proposal in a wider consultation exercise on statutory consultees in due course.
The active places database does not provide information in the format requested. Active places includes data about more than 50,000 sports facilities. These facilities include 29,467 playing field sites, of which 13,933 are listed as owned by an education establishment. These playing field sites include, respectively, 50,600 and 24,527 marked-out sports pitches.