HC Deb 12 April 2002 vol 383 cc653-4W
Mr. Wyatt

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many school playing fields were sold in(a) 2000–01 and (b) 2001–02; and what acreage this involved. [44447]

John Healey

In the financial year April 2000 to March 2001, the Department approved 38 applications to sell areas of school playing field larger than a small sports pitch for the under 10s, that is greater than 2,000m2. The total area involved was 540,000m2, or about 131 acres. Of this total, 40 acres were at closed or closing school sites.

In the financial year from April 2001 to date, the Department has approved 18 applications to sell areas larger than a school sports pitch for the under 10s. The total area involved amounts to some 280,000m2, or about 69 acres, of which 39 acres are at closed or closing school sites. The Department does not know how many of these approved applications have resulted in actual sales. In all cases, we have ensured that the remaining playing fields would meet the full needs of the schools involved and of other schools in the local area.

Some of the proceeds from these approved applications are earmarked to provide 13 new sports halls and to improve other sports facilities at schools, such as new all-weather pitches and to bring other, poorly drained, pitches back into use. In other cases, the proceeds are to be used to improve educational facilities——for example, by providing modern, up to date, teaching accommodation, such as science and technology classrooms. In a number of cases, the proceeds are to be used to help build new schools or to enable multi-site schools to consolidate on to one site.