Fields in Trust

Disposal Policy

Policy guidance on disposal of protected recreational land under a Field Change Request.

Prior written consent from Fields in Trust is required if a legally protected park or green space is to be disposed of. This consent is necessary irrespective of any other legal requirements in the respective home nations such as planning permission for change of use, educational legislation, or playing field legislation.

Replacement land is required for any proposal for a transfer or lease of protected green space whose use is deemed incompatible with the Fields in Trust protection. The replacement land will compensate for the loss of green space. Ancillary buildings are also caught by this requirement in some cases, and we will expect the landowner to put forward an offer of replacement land when they submit a request for consent to a disposal. Please see our Policy on Building Uses for further details.

If the disposal relates to a transfer or lease of the land where the land will continue to be used for public recreation, then we may not seek replacement land, although a new Deed of Dedication or Minute of Agreement will need to be entered into with the landowner and in some cases with the tenant.

Fields in Trust appreciates that over time the needs of the local community may change and there might be other compelling reasons for the landowner to dispose of their green space. We are therefore responsive to local change and flexible in our dealings with landowners, provided that we are satisfied that the proposal will benefit the community and an alternative suitable green space/s will be protected for future generations.

Management and control of these vital resources should, where possible, remain with local organisations and councils who are best placed to meet local needs and respond to changes in community circumstances.

Criteria for replacement land

The exchange criteria apply to any means of disposal, be it a freehold transfer, a leasehold transfer or otherwise. Land exchanges may be agreed, subject to the following criteria being met:

  1. The quantity of land to be newly protected must be no less than that to be released. This equivalent size criterion normally applies to the replacement land being land newly brought into recreational use. In certain circumstances, land already in recreational use might be acceptable for exchange but it would need to be substantially greater in size than the land being released.
  2. The quality of the land and facilities to be newly protected should be equivalent or better than that being released e.g. disused area replaced by maintained open space. Discretion will be used by Fields in Trust on a case-by-case basis as to the balance of size and quality of replacement land.
  3. The replacement land/facilities would be expected to serve the same catchment area as the land to be disposed. In each case, when defining the catchment area, the considerations will include:
    • The size of the piece of land to be disposed of, taking into account the total size of the protected space
    • The type of facilities that will be lost.
    • Other protected spaces in the locality.
    • Factors affecting travel and access.
  4. The replacement land and facilities would be expected to have at least the same level of public access as those being released.
  5. The landowner must apply as much of the proceeds from any sale as are necessary to acquire and lay-out the replacement land and/or facilities.
  6. In exceptional circumstances and where replacement land is not available, or the size of the area being sold or leased is very small, Fields in Trust may accept payment of a premium for its consent for the disposal in order that it can continue its work of protecting parks and green space throughout the UK. The land to be disposed of must not be actively used for sport and recreation and must be surplus to those requirements.
  7. Only in extremely rare circumstances will Fields in Trust agree to release a whole protected space (for example, when it is a sports club site and the club wishes to move to another ground and transfer the dedication to the new ground).

Further conditions and requirements

  • Where land, within England and Wales, is owned by a charity, or is itself registered as a charity, the requirements of the 2011 Charities Acts and the Charities’ (Qualified Surveyors’ Reports) Regulations 1992 as amended or replaced by subsequent legislation must be followed. For example, disposal must be in the best interests of the charity and an independent survey, including a valuation, by a surveyor is required. Proceeds must be reinvested in the stated trust purposes. Guidance is available in CC28 – “Sales, leases, transfers or mortgages: What trustees need to know about disposing of charity land” available from the Charity Commission.

  • A new Deed of Dedication or Minute of Agreement protecting the replacement site(s) must be entered into. Conditions may be set relating to the future use of the land to be disposed of.

  • Fields in Trust’s own costs and professional fees must be met by the organisation requesting the disposal or exchange.

  • Fields in Trust is a registered charity (No. 306070) and welcomes donations by landowners made towards its charitable objectives to protect parks and green spaces – forever.

This policy was last updated in August 2023.