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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 03/02/2004

Summary & Purpose
The purpose of this report is to present to Members the findings of the Playing Pitch Strategy which was commissioned in 2003.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Resource Use
Prevention and Control
and Nature
Safe, Healthy
and Active


A Playing Pitch Strategy for Waverley
[Wards Affected: All]
Summary and purpose:

The purpose of this report is to present to Members the findings of the Playing Pitch Strategy which was commissioned in 2003.
Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe, Healthy and Active Communities
Local Economy

Playing pitches are part of the cultural services provided within the Borough. Cultural services can improve the quality of life for all, allowing people both to derive pleasure and to fulfil their own potential and broaden their horizons. Evidence shows that cultural activity has a role to play in tackling many social issues such as promoting safer communities, improving health, regenerating areas, stimulating lifelong learning and tackling social exclusion within our communities.

E-Government implications:

It is intended to publish the adopted Playing Pitch Strategy on the Council’s web site so members of the public with an interest can view the detailed findings of the research.

Resource and legal implications:

There will be resource implications arising from the delivery of some key recommendations set out within the strategy. Future resource requirements will be requested as part of the annual service planning process and be subject to future budget setting. It is anticipated that some elements of the strategy will be funded through external funding sources.


1. In April 2003, the Council appointed PMP Consultancy to produce a borough-wide playing pitch strategy.

2. The key objectives of the study were to:

3. The strategy is primarily concerned with voluntary participation in competitive association football (referred to in this document as ‘football’), cricket, rugby and hockey, by adults and young people and presents the key findings arising from extensive survey work and consultation, highlighting areas of both concern and opportunity.

4. It is important to note that this strategy is primarily concerned with the provision of playing pitches and not playing fields nor open spaces (which include grass or other areas which are not used for sport). This is an important distinction as some of the areas surrounding pitches are not used for sport but are important in terms of open space.

5. Provision was analysed on a borough wide basis and was also considered at both sub-area and ward level. For the purposes of the strategy we have used the four local sports council areas – which are Cranleigh, Farnham and district, Godalming and Haslemere.

6. A full copy of the report by PMP, “A Playing Pitch Strategy for Waverley”, is available for perusal in the Members’ Room.

The Playing Pitch Methodology (PPM)

7. The process follows the methodology outlined in ‘Towards a level playing field: A manual for the production of a playing pitch strategy’ document launched in Spring 2003. This revised methodology was produced following widespread consultation on the 1991 methodology, in conjunction with a steering group comprising representatives from the Central Council of Physical Recreation, Local Government Association, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Loughborough University and Sport England.

8. The aim of the PPM is to determine the number of pitches required for each activity based on demand in an actual or predicted set of circumstances. The essential difference between this methodology and previous approaches based on standards is that, instead of using land area per head of population as the basic unit, it measures demand (at peak times) in terms of teams requiring pitches and then compares this with the pitches available, thus enabling a tangible measure of the adequacy of existing supply.
9. The particular advantage of this methodology is that it is related precisely to the local situation and the very task of collating and analysing the information highlights problems and issues from which policy options and solutions can be explored.

10. In line with this revised methodology, this playing pitch strategy focuses exclusively on pitch provision for football, rugby union, hockey, and cricket. It also considers the role that synthetic turf pitches (STPs) can play in meeting the needs of residents of the area.


11. The success of the methodology outlined above depends largely on obtaining as accurate a tally as possible of the number of teams and pitches within Waverley. To achieve this, a full audit of pitches, users and providers within the borough’s boundary was conducted.

12. Questionnaires were sent to:

Key Findings

Pitch stock
13. Overall, the research identified 245 playing pitches in Waverley. This figure includes all known public, private, school and other pitches whether or not they are in secured public use. This equates to circa one pitch for every 388 adults in the borough. This ratio compares very favourably with both the estimated equivalent national figure of one pitch for every 989 adults (Source: The 1991 Playing Pitch Strategy), and the majority of other local authorities for which data is currently available

14. Of the 245 pitches identified, 169 (69%) are secured for the local community, i.e. available for public community use; again this figure is considered high when compared to other local authorities nationally.

Supply and Demand Data
15. The key issues emerging from supply and demand data are:

the LEA is the secondary provider supplying 37% of the pitches available

Priorities for action and key recommendations

16. The research findings lead to the following components as a basis for maintaining and enhancing playing pitch provision in Waverley:

protecting existing provision
enhancing existing provision
overcoming identified deficiencies and planning for new provision
dealing with identified surpluses
developing a local standard.

Protection of existing provision
17. The current and projected (by 2013) future deficiencies identified emphasise the necessity of protecting all existing areas of playing pitch land in public, private and educational ownership located in each sub-area with a current or projected future shortfall in particular sports. It is recommended that all existing playing fields are protected, with consideration only given to disposal where alternative high quality provision is made available.

18. Securing the use of a number of school sites not currently available for community use is recommended. Formal agreements should be drawn up with schools that currently accommodate community teams at weekends. Formal agreements must not compromise curricular physical education.

Enhancement of existing provision
19. A key priority for the future should be to place greater emphasis on improving the quality of pitches and ancillary facilities in Waverley. Improvement of existing provision will contribute significantly towards improving overall pitch provision in Waverley by increasing the carrying capacity of the sites. Both the supply and demand analysis and the consultation process identifies the need to improve the quality of a number of existing facilities as opposed to providing land for new ones.

20. A site specific list of pitches/ facilities requiring further investigation for upgrading/improvements (identified through site visits, consultation and user surveys) is presented in Annexe 1. This list requires further detailed investigation as part of the key actions arising from the strategy. It is intended that this list will be prioritised and will then form the basis of future service planning and delivery.

Overcoming identified deficiencies and planning for new provision
21. Where possible, any new provision should be considered in multi-pitch site format so as to benefit from cost savings in maintenance and provision of ancillary facilities. In the long term, it is also recommended that one hard surfaced multi-pitch junior and one mini soccer site is provided in each Catchment Area (the former possibly achieved by utilising/converting underused tennis courts in the borough).

22. It is recommended that contributions from developers should be sought under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 from all housing developments. Provision should also be made for subsequent maintenance costs.

23. It is important to recognise that open space performs many functions as well as pitch provision. It may be simply a case of stopping the specialist maintenance operations required for sports pitch provision.

Towards a local standard
24. An important outcome from a playing pitch study is the development of local standards of provision, in accordance with national planning policy. Such standards will:

underpin negotiations with developers over their contributions for new pitch provision to meet the needs of new residential developments
provide an additional overview of the general supply of pitches/level of provision
assist in protecting land in playing field use
assist in benchmarking with other areas/authorities.

25. The Council’s Local Plan states that for every 1,000 people, 1.6 hectares of playing pitches should be provided. The NPFA 6-acre standard (the benchmark for this standard) states that for every 1,000 people, 1.2 ha of playing pitch should be provided. Waverley’s current provision is 1.3 ha per 1,000 population available for community use. Having undertaken the detailed calculations and given future deficiencies in supply coupled with anticipated increases in the population, the PPM recommends that the current local standard of 1.6 hectares per 1000 population continues to be the adopted standard for Waverley.

The role of all partners
26. All organisations responsible for providing/developing pitch sports in the study area should consider the following actions:

all providers in the public, voluntary, commercial and education sectors should strive to protect all existing areas of playing pitch land and open space providers should seek to retain a degree of spare capacity of pitches. This is an integral part of playing pitch provision and sports development, to accommodate latent and future demand and allow for rest and recovery of pitches - re-designation of adult pitches to junior/mini pitches
- negotiation with schools to secure facilities for junior community use
- development of changing and ancillary accommodation in line with Football Association and Football Foundation datasheets and guidance
- conversion of pitches currently out of use to junior football facilities

shortfalls should be met firstly through the upgrading of existing facilities and pitches rather than the acquisition of new land. Provision can be increased through schemes which: - improve drainage of sites
- improve changing facilities, including dedicated provision for women and children
- improve access, spectator facilities and car parking following quality improvement schemes, the second priority to meet shortfalls is to acquire, by agreement or negotiation, community access to private sports pitches and school sites, or securing leasing agreements with existing landowners - partners should seek to secure funds from their own resources through re-designation of surplus adult pitches to open space, thus saving pitch maintenance costs

27. As a planning authority, the Council should seek to:

support the principle that the new pitch facilities should be developed, wherever possible, in locations where ancillary facilities are acceptable (in planning and licensing terms) in order that the fullest use can be made of the investment required and clubs can maximise revenue and become self-sufficient
when determining planning applications, adopt the minimum standard of playing pitches as set out in this report
consult with Sport England on any planning application relating to the potential loss of playing fields
give favourable consideration to voluntary sports clubs wishing to relocate their pitches to a new site providing that all proceeds are reinvested in the club and that there is no assessed deficiency of overall open space in the area being vacated
seek to enter Section 106 agreements under the Town and Country Planning Act for the provision of the pitches and ancillary facilities, and for subsequent maintenance, in new developments and, if appropriate, to provide compensatory facilities where existing provision is under threat.


28. The Council has a central role in planning, providing and co-ordinating provision of playing pitches in the borough. The Council should also play a major part in assisting other providers (such as schools) to allow community access and maintain and enhance the quality of their provision. The recommendations, outlined above, are directed at the Council as the lead organisation in ensuring future provision of pitches is balanced, meets the needs of the community and is protected for future generations. Issues relating to the implementation of the strategy through Section 106 agreements will be the subject of further cross departmental work and will be reported to Members in due course.

The Executive is recommended:

1. to endorse the findings of the strategy and to formally adopt the Waverley Playing Pitch Strategy as the basis of future service delivery; and

2. officers, working in partnership with key partners, seek to deliver the recommendations set out in the strategy.

Background Papers (DoE&L)

Waverley Playing Pitch Strategy

Contact Officer:

Name: Julie Maskery Telephone: 01483 523432
E-mail: jmaskery@waverley.gov.uk