This response to Sport England is made on behalf of the Planning Officers Society (POS). The Society represents the most senior professionals and managers of planning functions in the English Local Authorities. It is rightly styled as the credible voice of public sector planning and sets out to
- be a preferred point of contact for public sector planners where they can access enable public sector planners to work together with Government and partners
- be a strong and united voice for public sector planners supporting and shaping planning policy and practice in local communities
- be a preferred point of contact for public sector planners where they can access learning, support and networking opportunities
- find common ground with other disciplines, organisations and the media to improve the planning process, policy and implementation
- broaden our membership and create a strong cohort of young planners, representative of the ethnic and gender diversity of the UK.
The Society's aim is to make planning more effective in delivering sustainable development to support the well-being of our communities.
The Society's response to the consultation: Assessing Needs and Opportunities Guide for Indoor and outdoor Sports Facilities is as follows:
- The Society is generally supportive of the document which aims to strengthen the importance of sporting facilities by helping local authorities develop a robust and up to date evidence base to support development management and plan making and which retains many of the .positive aspects of the PPG17 companion guide.
- There is however concern that, whilst it is confirmed that the document replaces, in part, the companion guide to PPG 17 it is heavily focused on formalised sport facilities whilst not considering areas of informal activity, particularly in the absence of any new or additional government guidance on such areas. The PPG 17 companion guide covered all typologies of open space and whilst this document is to be supported for its content on formalised sport, Informal open space performs a valuable role in sport and recreation, a fact acknowledged in the document but not accounted for.
- The document refers to LAs undertaking assessment of sports facilities to meet their areas sports and recreational needs but sport often takes place on an ad hoc basis on general amenity space, in parks and in gardens. This should not be forgotten particularly when considering the benefits to health and the recognised link between sport and health, social and cultural well-being. Open space performs a range of functions all closely linked to health and well-being issues
- In respect of the issue of health and well-being this is positively promoted within the document which is to be welcomed. However this further highlights a deficiency in separating sporting needs assessments from open space assessments.
- Although somewhat lengthy, and a more concise document would be preferable, the document does set out more clearly the purpose, process, approach and potential outcomes in producing a robust assessment as well as highlighting the need to consider cross boundary supply and demand issues and joint working/strategies under the duty to co-operate.
- The checklist at the end of sections is to be welcomed as a guide throughout the assessment and would provide a helpful guide in project management and auditing.
- It is helpful to remind practitioners of the importance of review ,monitoring and updating.to ensure there is confidence in the documents evidence base and its reliability and specific reference is to be welcomed.
Dave Simpson. - Chairman, Spatial Planning & Policy Committee, Planning Officers Society