To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have issued guidance to encourage local authorities to preserve existing outdoor space for school pupils wherever possible when planning building work and expansion at their schools.
Prior to 2012, no protection at all existed to prevent schools putting school buildings on playing fields. Schools could build over playing fields without seeking consent and with impunity. This led to the disappearance of thousands of playing fields—Fields in Trust (formerly The National Playing Field Association) estimated 2,540 playing fields, or 26 sites a month, were lost between 1997 and 2005. This Government has introduced protections on playing fields where there were none before, so that schools and local authorities now have to seek permission if they want to change the use of public playing fields by putting school buildings on them. We now require schools to apply for consent even where the buildings are being used for education or recreational purposes.
When considering applications to place school buildings on playing fields we take into account the amount of playing field a school will be left with after the building work, whether there will be any impact on sport and play, and the reason for the proposed change.