Policy 3.19 Sports facilities



A  The Mayor’s Sports Legacy Plan aims to increase participation in, and tackle inequality of access to, sport and physical activity in London particularly amongst groups/areas with low levels of participation.

Planning decisions

B  Development proposals that increase or enhance the provision of sports and recreation facilities will be supported. Proposals that result in a net loss of sports and recreation facilities, including playing fields should be resisted. Temporary facilities may provide the means of mitigating any loss as part of proposals for permanent re-provision. Wherever possible, multi-use public facilities for sport and recreational activity should be encouraged. The provision of sports lighting should be supported in areas where there is an identified need for sports facilities to increase sports participation opportunities, unless the sports lighting gives rise to demonstrable harm to local community or biodiversity.

C  Where sports facility developments are proposed on existing open space, they will need to be considered carefully in light of policies on Green Belt and protecting open space (Chapter 7) as well as the borough’s own assessment of needs and opportunities for both sports facilities and for green multifunctional open space.

LDF preparation

D  Within LDFs Boroughs should assess the need for sports and recreation facilities in line with the NPPF (paras.73-74) at the local and sub-regional levels regularly, and secure sites for a range of sports facilities.

Supporting text

3.109  This Policy complements Policy 3.16 on social infrastructure. Boroughs should refer to both policies when planning for sports facilities.

3.110  Sports and recreation facilities are important parts of the social infrastructure, providing a range of social and health benefits for communities and neighbourhoods. Backed by the Mayor’s Sports Legacy Plan, these will be given increasing prominence as part of the legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

3.111  Within the next 10 years, London will be short of indoor community facilities such as sports halls and artificial grass pitches. Demand and supply for swimming pools will be broadly in balance Londonwide, although some areas will be better supplied than others.  It is essential that local authorities plan strategically for the future provision of these core sports facilities, and the GLA has prepared a technical report[1] with Sport England which assists boroughs. The report advances the Mayor’s commitment in A Sporting Future for London to initiate a facility strategy for the capital and his encouragement to all authorities that have yet to undertake a needs and evidence based approach to planning for community sport to do so. In the current climate, refurbishment or modernisation of existing sports facilities as well as rationalisation and replacement of existing sports provision is critical to ensuring that the right mix of facilities are in the right places to meet sporting demand and to increase levels of participation.

3.111A  When not being used for their primary function, large sports facilities providing for spectator sports should be opened up and encouraged to host a wide range of other community activities. Built sports facilities should only be accommodated on green open space, if that area has been identified by a borough open space strategy as surplus to requirements for any open green space use.

3.112  The Mayor will work with local authorities, national sports governing bodies, Sport England, sporting foundations and trusts, the private sector and others to provide investment to support the development of new facilities or the refurbishment of existing facilities. The focus will principally be small, community, park or estate-based projects. The Mayor will also support the establishment of multi-sport hub sites on playing fields in London. Shared use of sports facilities in schools (state and independent), further and higher education institutions, commercial schemes, community centres and church halls will help reduce demand for new provision.

3.112A  Up-to-date playing pitch strategies provide a robust evidence base to inform consideration of school expansion.   Playing field related issues should be discussed with Sport England and playing pitch strategies should take account of Sport England’s new methodology[2]. Sport England can provide support and guidance to local authorities seeking to refresh or develop new playing pitch strategies.

3.113   As part of renewing a school’s building stock, there may be opportunities to identify complementary specialised sports facilities that can be shared by schools, the community and sports clubs. Through attracting specialist clubs and coaches, this can assist in raising standards of performance and widen opportunities for students and community users. If such a facility fills an identified gap in provision, funding may be available through a sport’s national governing body or other partners. Sports facilities should be accessible to all sections of the community (including disabled people), within easy reach by walking, cycling and public transport, affordable and safe. Installation of sports lighting can enable the full use of artificial grass pitches and other outdoor sports provision, but consideration must be given to any demonstrable harm to residential communities or biodiversity. Where appropriate, disused bathing ponds and lidos should be brought back into use.

3.114  The 2012 Paralympic Games helped to change attitudes towards disabled people[3] and provided the opportunity to improve disabled people’s participation in sport and physical activity. To build on this legacy all development proposals should ensure that inclusive access issues are addressed from the outset (see Policy 7.2) so that programmes such as the Inclusive Fitness Initiative[4] and the Mayor’s Sports Legacy programme can be effective in increasing disabled and older people’s ability to participate. The Olympic Delivery Authority’s approach to embedding inclusive design from the outset[5] was effective at integrating inclusive design principles in the development process, helping to deliver the most accessible games ever.[6] This inclusive design process is being taken forward by the London Legacy Development Corporation in their Inclusive Design Strategy and Standards,[7] and can be used as a model of good practice to be followed in all developments outside the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Sport England has published updated guidance on Accessible Sports Facilities, an audit checklist and downloadable CAD drawings of accessible sports facilities[8] to ensure that new sports facilities meet inclusive design principles.

[1]     An evidence base for sports facilities in London – the basis for strategic sports facilities planning across London using Sport England’s Facility Planning Model. David Payne, August 2010.


[2]     Sport England. Playing Pitches Strategy Guidance: An approach to developing and delivering a playing pitch strategy. October 2013

[3]     http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20693024

[4]     http://www.efds.co.uk/inclusive_fitness

[5]     Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA). Inclusive Design Strategy and Standards. ODA, September 2008

[6]     Read the Mayor’s press release: 2012 Games raising bar for embedding accessibility into city

[7]     London Legacy Development Corporation. Inclusive Design Strategy, September 2012

London Legacy Development Corporation, Inclusive Design Standards, March 2013

[8]     Sport England. Accessible Sports Facilities. Sport England, 2011

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