Memorandum by The Central Council of Physical
Recreation (PPG 11)|
1.1 The CCPR is the umbrella organisation
for 256 national governing and representative bodies of sport
1.2 The draft PPG 17 is a matter of considerable
importance to the membership and the decision to hold an inquiry
into the draft is warmly welcomed. The consensus within sport
and recreation is that there is significant scope for improvement
in the draft planning note.
1.3 The increased emphasis on the national
governing bodies of sport and recreation within the draft is positive.
This will help to ensure that national plans for specific sports
are supported by the planning process. The role of governing bodies
in setting national standards is well documented. Governing bodies
can also support voluntary clubs in their dealings with local
2. SPORT WITHIN
2.1 Sport is increasingly recognised as
an important tool for government policy as well as being important
in its own right. This is demonstrated by the Prime Minister's
speech to our Olympic and Paralympic medal winners on 11 January
2001 when he said
"I see sport as a pro-education policy;
a pro-health policy; an anti-crime and anti-drugs policy."
2.2 There is a need for more evidence of
all Government Departments sharing the Prime Minister's enthusiasm
for sport and recreation.
2.3 The Planning Minister, Nick Raynsford
MP, told the House on 13 January 1999 that
"A draft revised PPG  will be issued
for consultation later this year."
2.4 Having studied the consultation document,
it is hard to understand the significant delays in its publication.
3. ENGAGING WITH
3.1 It would have helped if the former DETR
had chosen to involve the CCPR in a pre-consultation on the draft
planning guidance. This would have ensured that some of the omissions
within the Guidance were recognised before the public consultation.
3.2 This lack of consultation with the representative
body for sport and recreation was also evident in the refusal
of officials to meet with the governing bodies to assist with
any redraft. We understand that Sport England's response has further
underlined some of the CCPR's concerns.
3.3 Policy makers should recognise that
volunteers contribute more to sport in this country than local
authorities, the National Lottery and the Exchequer combined.
The Guidance should look to support the voluntary sports club
sector, which is the backbone of British sport.
4. RURAL AND
4.1 The split in responsibilities at the
former DETR between DEFRA and DTLR could create difficulties for
sport and recreation. For example, the lead on planning rests
with DTLR but environmental issues now rest with DEFRA. The CCPR
is unsure which Department would have precedence on environmental
planning and designation issues.
4.2 It is unclear from the remit of the
inquiry whether the Urban Affairs Sub-committee wishes to consider
PPG 17 in its entirety or rather those sections relevant to urban
sport. There is an increasing concern amongst our membership that
there is an imbalance between conservationism and recreation in
4.3 There is a danger that the issues for
sport gaining access to environmentally sensitive areas are becoming
dominated by ideologies rather than agreements. The planning guidance
should reflect the policy that banning access for specific sport
and recreation activities must only be a last resort, after voluntary
schemes and then management byelaws have been tried and shown
not to work.
5. ENGLISH NATURE
5.1 The CCPR member organisations have reported
problems with planning on Sites of Special Scientific Interest
(SSSI) since the introduction of the Countryside and Rights of
5.2 It is understood that an objection by
English Nature to a planning application on a SSSI means that
the application is rejected. It is reported that English Nature
do not have to provide reasons for an objection and that this
is compounded by the lack of a right of appeal. Such a process
would appear to be contrary to natural justice and could fall
foul of the right to a fair hearing under the Human Rights Act.
6.1 As outlined in the CCPR response to
the draft PPG, the guidance for air sports, water sports and countryside
recreations needs to be significantly improved.
6.2 Local Planning Authorities need to be
encouraged to give a greater priority to sport within Local and
Unitary Development Plans. This should support sport's role as
a tool for promoting health, education and social inclusion whilst
7.1 A Sporting Future for All, the Government's
plan for sport, was published in March 2001. This welcome strategy
was endorsed by the School's Minister, the Deputy Home Secretary
and the Minister for Public Health. It is disappointing that the
former DETR was unable to support the strategy.
7.2 The Government Sports Strategy places
emphasis on the role of clubs in delivering local sport and recreation
opportunities. These clubs are often run on shoestring budgets
by volunteers. Government policy is to encourage these clubs to
modernise and to develop their facilities for the whole community
including active youth sections. This will often require expanding
the club and therefore having to seek planning permission.
7.3 It is essential that the final PPG 17
gives sufficient comfort to clubs wishing to expand their facilities,
in line with the Government sports strategy.
8. £750 MILLION
8.1 Last autumn, the Prime Minister announced
the Government's intention to allocate £750 million of New
Opportunities Fund lottery money to an unprecedented investment
in school-community sports facilities. Such an investment has
the potential to start a step change in school sport provision.
8.2 The draft PPG 17 would have been strengthened
by specific reference to encouraging the building of community
sports facilities at schools. Without support from the planning
system, this flagship Government policy may be undermined and
9.1 The CCPR is strongly of the opinion
that the regulatory framework underpinning the guidance note is
not sufficient to support any desire to protect and improve playing
fields, let alone urban green spaces.
9.2 The 1996 Playing Field Legislation gave
Sport England Statutory Consultee status on planning applications
affecting playing fields. This urgently needs updating to bring
the new FA mini-soccer pitches within its protection. Currently,
playing fields under one acre are not protected.
9.3 There needs to be a new statutory requirement
for local authorities to inform Sport England of the outcome of
a planning application on playing fields. This is a serious shortcoming
in the legislation. Without such a requirement, it is hard to
see how any Doomsday Book of facilities, announced by the DCMS
Secretary of State on 15 August 2001, could be kept up to date.
9.4 A 34 per cent increase in the number
of planning applications affecting playing fields was recently
reported by the DTLR (Building for Future Sports StarsNew
Planning Controls Safeguard Sports Venues. News Release 396. 19
September 2001). There were 887 planning applications affecting
playing fields referred to Sport England in 2000-01. This compares
to 663 planning applications the previous year.
9.5 The Town and Country (Playing Fields)(England)
Direction 1998 applies when Sport England objects to a planning
application affecting a local authority or school playing field.
When the local authority is minded to give permission in spite
of the objection, it is required to notify the DTLR. In the first
two years, the Secretary of State used his new powers to "call
in" just three of the 39 applications referred to him by
9.6 Sport England objections have been over-ruled
92 per cent of the time by the DTLR.
9.7 Preliminary evidence presented to the
DCMS Playing Field Monitoring Group would suggest that 50 per
cent to 70 per cent of local planning authorities are perhaps
not complying with the 1998 Planning Legislation. Sport England
and DTLR officials are jointly reviewing past records in more
detail to provide a definitive picture.
9.8 The CCPR has called for a moratorium
on playing field sales in local authorities that have yet to carry
out a playing pitch audit with an assessment of demand.
10. SCHOOL PLAYING
10.1 The Committee may be aware of press
reports that the DfES has given permission for Fosters Field in
Dorset to be sold. This playing field was at a closed school and
represented the only significant green space within the centre
of Sherbourne. This decision represents a reversal of Charles
Clarke's original decision, as Schools Minister, to protect Foster's
10.2 This decision highlights the real difficulties
in creating joined up policy between DfES and DTLR in protecting
playing fields for school and community use. The White Paper on
Education presents an ideal opportunity to address the significant
failing that prohibits the Education Department considering community
need and the Planning Department considering educational need.
10.3 Any assistance that the Committee is
able to give to help deliver joined up Government on playing fields
would be greatly appreciated. As an aside, it is unclear whether
a compulsory purchase order would over-ride the legislation put
in place to protect school playing fields.
10.4 The Department for Education has approved
some 97 per cent of applications by schools to sell playing fields
since the new legislation came into force in 1998.
11. URBAN GREEN
11.1 The CCPR would welcome clarification
on how the work of the Urban Green Spaces Taskforce, announced
by the Regeneration Minister on 29 January 2001, relates to the
draft PPG 17.
11.2 The taskforce is due to report on delivering
the Government's vision for parks, play areas and open spaces.
It appears strange that the relevant PPG is due to be finalised
before the taskforce reports.
12. TOWN AND
12.1 The CCPR believes that there is considerable
scope for the Town and Village Green Legislation (The Commons
Registration Act 1965) to be updated to provide genuine protection
for community green spaces.
12.2 The judgement of the Law Lords on the
Sunningwell Case delivered on 25 June 1999 looked to clarify a
number of important points concerning the registration of greens.
This decision was widely welcomed by local groups as a means to
assist in protecting their local green spaces from development.
12.3 Subsequent to the Sunningwell Decision,
local residents in Washington tried to register a local playing
field as a village green. This claim was defeated because it was
ruled that by cutting the grass, the Council had given implied
permission. This decision has since been upheld by the Court of
Appeal concerning R (Beresford) v Sunderland City Council on 26
12.4 The CCPR would welcome any encouragement
the Committee is able to give to the ensuring that local residents
will still be able to register land as a village green. The creative
use of the Village and Town Green Legislation offers an ideal
opportunity to create a new legacy of urban green spaces for the
twenty first century.
13.1 The CCPR is interested to learn when
the DTLR intend to publish a summary of the responses to the public
consultation on PPG 17.
14.1 The decision to update the 1991 Planning
Guidance Note for Sport and Recreation is to be applauded. However,
the draft leaves considerable scope for improvement.
14.2 There seemed to be barriers to collaboration
between the former DETR and other Departments to support the Government's
Sports Strategy. These barriers to collaboration were even more
pronounced for the voluntary sports sector. We trust that new
DTLR will reaffirm its support for sport, open spaces and recreation.
14.3 PPG 17 needs to provide clear policy
guidance, which promotes sport and recreation in a more positive
light. This will enable clubs to develop and improve for the benefit
of sport, health, education, crime reduction and social inclusion.
14 Sport England has previously estimated that the
value of volunteer effort to sport and recreation is worth £1.5
billion each year. Local authorities spend around £1 billion
pa on sport and recreation; the National Lottery allocates some
£250 million each year to sport; and DCMS Exchequer spend
on sport is worth £67 million this year. Back