48 sports playing fields across England are to be protected and improved in the first wave of National Lottery investment by Sport England’s Protecting Playing Fields legacy fund.
The announcement comes as communities across the country are invited to bring the 2012 legacy to life in their area by bidding for support for a local playing field through the second £2 million round of Protecting Playing Fields.
Applications for the second round can be made between 24 October 2011 and 12 December 2011, with community and voluntary sector groups able to apply without partnership funding.
More than £2 million of National Lottery funding has been offered to sports clubs and local groups in the first round to bring disused playing fields back into use, improve existing sites or create new sports pitches. A further £8 million will be awarded to hundreds more projects through the four remaining funding rounds.
“These investments will transform the local pitches where many young people have their first experience of sport,” said Richard Lewis, Sport England’s Chair. “With all of the playing fields safe from development for at least a generation, communities across England can look forward to years of sporting enjoyment.”
Protecting Playing Fields is part of the Places People Play legacy programme to bring the inspiration and magic of a home Olympic and Paralympic Games into communities all over the country.
“When we speak about leaving a lasting legacy from hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games it’s about offering people more opportunities and better facilities to play sport, and protecting playing fields is central to this ambition,” said Hugh Robertson MP, Minister for Sport and the Olympics. “Thousands of sportsmen and women will now benefit from Sport England’s Protecting Playing Fields legacy fund seeing improvements to existing sites and bringing disused community playing fields back into use.”
Among the funding offers of between £20,000 and £50,000 are:
- £50,000 to drain and level Tufnell Park Playing Fields in Islington, the London borough with the fewest playing fields. In partnership with Islington Council, which is contributing £85,600, this project will allow the pitches to be used twice as often, benefiting mainly junior and women’s football teams.
- £50,000 for Cobham Sports Association in Surrey, where work will begin next week to turn a derelict golf driving range into three new multi-sport grass pitches, doubling the playing field provision at the club. That means more football, more lacrosse and more rugby union for local residents. The club is putting in £70,000 to the project.
- £49,000 for the OSCA Foundation, a charity in a deprived area of Halifax, West Yorkshire, which will take over ownership from the local council of a playing field where 90% of matches currently get cancelled because of water-logging and other issues. Following improvements, including enlarging the pitches, they will be used for rugby league in the summer and football in the winter.
All 48 playing fields will also be protected from developers for at least 25 years, creating an enduring benefit for sport. And 27 will become Queen Elizabeth II Fields after agreeing to dedicate their playing field in “perpetuity”. This is thanks to a partnership with Fields in Trust (FIT) which is running the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge as part of the programme to mark the Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics.
“This fantastic investment into grassroots facilities in England will help to ensure that neighbourhoods can participate in sporting activities at all levels for years to come,” said Alison Moore-Gwyn, Chief Executive of Fields in Trust. “We are delighted to see that over half of these playing fields will also be protected in perpetuity as part of the permanent legacy that the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge will create in tribute to the Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics.”
More than half of the groups benefiting from Protecting Playing Fields are community sports clubs while six are playing field associations, five are parish councils and three are schools or colleges. The awards also include the purchase of five playing field sites totalling 25 acres and 13 pitches.
By simplifying the application process and reducing the technical expertise required to bid, the funding has been opened up to groups that haven’t previously received public money. Almost half the successful bidders (23) in the first round are first-time applicants.
Protecting Playing Fields builds on the work Sport England already does to safeguard playing fields as a statutory consultee on all planning applications affecting a sports playing field.
To find out more about the Protecting Playing Fields fund or to submit an application for round two, visit sportengland.org /funding