Playing fields get cash windfall

Sport England initiative will distribute a total of £10m to projects for protection and restoration.

The first round of funding has seen the release of £2m - image: Sport England
The first round of funding has seen the release of £2m - image: Sport England

Playing fields are to be protected and improved through a £10m fund backed by the National Lottery.

More than £2m has been distributed to sports clubs and other local groups in the first wave of funding, announced last week. The cash will help to bring disused playing fields back into use, improve existing sites and create sports pitches.

The remaining £8m will be awarded to projects through four more funding rounds.

Richard Lewis, chairman of Sport England, which is running the Protecting Playing Fields Legacy Fund, said: "The 48 playing fields will be protected from developers for at least 25 years."

He added that 27 sites will become Queen Elizabeth II Fields in a partnership with the Fields In Trust charity (HW, 21 October).

Beneficiaries of the first funding round include Tufnell Park Playing Fields in London and Cobham Sports Association in Surrey, which will use the money to turn a derelict driving range into three grass pitches.

Meanwhile, the OSCA Foundation charity in Halifax, West Yorkshire, will use the funding to take ownership of a playing field where 90 per cent of matches currently get cancelled because of water-logging.

Minister for sport Hugh Robertson said: "Thousands of people will benefit from Sport England's Protecting Playing Fields Legacy Fund."

The deadline for round-two applications is 12 December. For more details, see www.sportengland.org/funding or call 08458 508 508.

Charity's view

"This investment into grassroots facilities will ensure that neighbourhoods can do sport at all levels for years to come. We are delighted that more than half of these playing fields will also be protected in perpetuity as part of the legacy of the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge." - Alison Moore-Gwyn, chief executive, Fields in Trust


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