Saturday, 25 August 2012 about that ban on selling playing fields


The enthusiasm for banning the sale of school playing fields continues - there's even a petition - today the Telegraph reports that 80% of people surveyed support such a ban. Lots of shouty news coverage talking about how we'll never win anything ever again in any sport because those nasty Tories are flogging off the school fields. But let me tell you a little story. One that reminds us that total bans are usually a pretty daft idea.

In Cullingworth there's an area of land that is defined as school playing fields. This land used to be attached to the primary school and was used for the purposes of play so I guess that definition is a good one. However, a few years ago a new school was built (complete with a nice new playing field) on a site that used to be allotments.

Now in the world of the total ban on selling playing fields can we change the designation of the land at the old school (now converted into apartments)? It seems not or that's what our friendly neighbourhood planners suggest. So the land has sat there empty, unused and unloved.

However, we know that given the right development, we can write and nice letter to that kind Mr Gove who can say to Bradford Council that they can sell the land. And this is precisely what we plan (in a roundabout sort of way) in order to get a new village hall with associated parking and such.

If there was a total ban on selling playing fields we'd be stuck with an unused piece of land that can't be developed (it's playing fields after all) and can't be sold. I can hear you saying that, of course, it isn't playing fields any more. But once you introduce such flexibility (probably by allowing that nice Mr Gove to determine whether or not it still is playing fields) you can't have a total ban.

As always with bans there are consequences. Things we didn't expect or anticipate and that mean we can't do the good things we wanted to do. By all means protect playing fields, certainly apply stringent rules for their redevelopment but leave off with the talk of bans.



Anonymous said...

This issue is misguided post-Olympics nonsense.

Of the 65 medals won by Team GB, less than 10% were from athletics - therefore the current over-provision of school playing-fields is plainly not delivering.

If they really wanted to base future Olympic success on starting kids early at school, they would provide cycle-tracks, rowing stretches and shooting ranges to build on the proven success at London 2012. Bet they don't.

Anonymous said...

The cullingworth Village Newsletter reports that the Council has been asked to provide allotments.There seems to be allotment land already available.Sorted?