HC Deb 19 December 1991 vol 201 cc215-6W
Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action he intends to take to safeguard school playing fields from re-development; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins

Local Education Authorities arc responsible for taking decisions on whether or not to dispose of school playing fields. It is the Government's policy to encourage authorities to dispose of land and buildings which have become surplus to requirements through the rationalisation of school provision. However, in view of public concern over the continuing loss of school playing fields to redevelopment, I have to-day written to the local authority associations seeking their comments on a letter I propose to issue to all local education authorities. The letter will ask LEAs not to dispose of school playing fields unless they have first investigated and established that they will not be needed in the long term for school or community use. It will also say that in future when considering proposals involving school closures my right hon. and learned Friend will take account of authorities' plans for the retention of playing fields that may be needed to remedy any deficiencies in playing field provision at neighbouring schools.