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School playing fields: Freedom of Information request

Details of figures released by the Department for Education on the sale of school playing fields.

The Department for Education has responded to a Freedom of Information request on the disposal of school playing fields.

The department has received 22 applications since May 2010 for the disposal of school playing fields. Approval has been given for 21 applications and one is under consideration.

Of the 21 playing fields we approved for disposal 14 were schools that had closed, 4 were sites that became surplus when existing schools amalgamated. Of the other three:

  • One was surplus marginal grassland on the school site. Proceeds of the sale were invested in the school library development and sports changing facilities
  • One was leased to a company to redevelop and improve a playing field (for the school’s use) that was subject to poor drainage and under used. Funding introduced all-weather playing surfaces comprising of four 5-a-side pitches, two 7-a-side pitches, a full sized football and hockey pitch and a 6-court indoor tennis facility. The school also profited from private hire of facilities outside school hours
  • One was due to be leased to an athletics club to improve sporting provision for the club and the school, although in this case the project did not go ahead

We will only agree to the sale of school playing fields if the sports and curriculum needs of schools and their neighbouring schools can continue to be met. Sale proceeds must be used to improve sports or education facilities and any new sports facilities must be sustainable for at least 10 years.

The number of approvals in previous years is as follows:

1999: 42

2000: 31

2001: 21

2002: 24

2003: 16

2004: 13

2005: 11

2006: 8

2007: 19

2008: 11

2009: 16

Since May 2010: 21

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