If a landowner of a site protected with us wants to install a new sporting facility, such as a skatepark, this is not something that requires our consent. The majority of sites protected with us are protected as a ‘public playing field and recreation ground’ which means that the actual facilities provided and any changes over time are down to the landowner. Similarly, if a landowner decides to remove a facility for a specific sport, such as a football pitch, this is also their decision. Fields in Trust recognise that local needs change over time and that landowners are best placed to manage local requirements.
However, if a site is protected as a ‘cricket ground’ then it must always be a cricket ground. In this case, if the cricket pitch was removed, this would be a change of use and is subject to our field change request procedure.
We request that landowners inform us of any changes to the sport and recreational facilities on protected sites so that we can keep our records up-to-date. If a landowner is unsure about whether a proposed change to a protected site requires our Trustees’ consent or not, there is more information on our change request page.
If a sports club, such as a football club, uses a site then the landowner is perfectly within their rights to make a charge for this, especially if they are marking out pitches. Some landowners may want to formalise the use of a facility by a particular club, and this can be done by granting a licence, which gives the club use of a facility at specific times.
Another option is a management agreement, and you can download a copy here.
Giving a sports club exclusive use of a facility requires a lease between the two parties, and because this is seen as a disposal of the land, it is subject to our field change request procedure if the site is protected with us.
If you are looking to create a new facility for a specific sport, the best source of advice will be the national governing body for that sport.
If you are looking to create a new facility such as a pavilion then Sport England have information on their website, where you will also find advice on drainage projects and other improvements to playing fields. Another source of information in the Institute of Groundsmanship.
The other Home Country Sports Councils will also provide advice to landowners and groups wishing to improve their facilities.
We also have some information on possible Funding sources.
Sports teams playing in local leagues will find that as they progress and get promoted their grounds will have to meet certain criteria. Things like placing a barrier around a pitch, installing dugouts and small seating stands are fine on sites protected with us, we just require notification. If a team gets to the level where they have to start fencing off a pitch and charging spectators, this can, depending on a number of factors, lead to conflict with the terms of protection on a protected site, i.e. sites protected with us must generally allow public access at all times. We recommend talking to us at the earliest opportunity if a protected site requires such upgrades for a team.