My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Gerry Sutcliffe) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I have today deposited in the House Libraries a press release detailing the latest position in relation to school and community playing fields. The position remains a very positive one with 97 per cent of concluded planning applications for 2005-06 representing a net benefit or no change to sporting provision. These figures confirm that the Government are meeting their commitment to protect playing fields. I also want to draw attention to a revision of one aspect of the data from previous years due to the discovery of a technical error which I set out in the press notice (also available online at www.culture.gov.uk).
The Government’s policy is clear—no sports playing field needed by the community should be lost. And the figures collated by Sport England and released today show that our tough protections are working. They reveal that there were no complete losses of playing fields in 2005-06 without replacement provision or net benefit to sporting provision where Sport England has objected to a planning application and where planning permission has been granted against their advice.
The figures do not include information on new playing fields created outside of Sport England’s statutory role, for example through new housing development in growth areas (which is often built on brown field or previously arable land), but where we know from anecdotal evidence that there are positive gains.