`Scraps of land' help investment
SCHOOL sporting facilities worth tens of millions of pounds have been welcomed by Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman.
Change-of-use applications approved by the Department for Education have resulted in 498 new sports facilities around the country and £268m of investment.
This has included schools selling off existing fields to fund indoor facilities, create all-weather pitches or buy new sites.
Mr Sheerman said: "The playing fields involved are nearly always poor quality, badly-drained scraps of land with no security, no floodlighting and inadequate changing facilities."
He added: "These new figures show that we are enabling more people in schools and local communities to take regular exercise.
"Decent sports facilities are vital to our nation's health and well-being and I welcome this development wholeheartedly."
The Government's record on playing fields has been criticised by the National Playing Fields Association (NPFA), which campaigns to protect open spaces for recreation and sport.
It rejects the claim that land sales have resulted in replacement facilities better than those lost. It says many schools are simply swapping outdoor playing fields for indoor sports halls or gyms.
Schools are under increasing pressure to sell playing fields to raise funds, particularly in regions where land values have rocketed.
In Mirfield, Castle Hall School plans to sell land for housing and build
a sports hall and all-weather facilities. Residents object to the idea.
In Huddersfield, a new special school is planned on a rugby pitch at Newsome High School and Sports College.