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Wednesday, 24 May, 2000, 00:43 GMT 01:43 UK
Playing fields still disappearing
Playing fields
Recreation grounds could be lost forever, say campaigners
Playing fields are still at risk of being built over, despite the government's promises to protect them, claim campaigners.

The National Playing Fields Association says that there are 900 open spaces under threat of being sold off for re-development.

And it says it is receiving fresh reports of threats to open spaces at the rate of almost one a day.

"We are selling off the next generation's heritage for short-term gain. Once these fields are built on, they will never be available for the children again," said the association's chairman Christopher Laing.

The playing fields association says its "at-risk" register includes local authority sports fields and grounds owned by public organisations and private companies.

The government has made a commitment to blocking the sales of school playing fields, but the association says this overlooks the loss of other public recreation spaces.

'Disastrous'

"All the recent publicity over the sale of school playing fields has diverted attention from the wider picture," said Mr Laing.

"The government's record on protecting school fields is disappointing - in the wider community its safeguarding of public land is nothing short of disastrous."

The government has claimed that it has staunched the loss of school playing fields - which it says had been running at 40 planning approvals a month when it came into office.

But the National Playing Fields Association has contested the success of this policy, claiming that a large proportion of applications for re-developing school playing fields were still being approved.

The government has rejected this in the past, arguing that wherever playing fields were lost they were almost always replaced by equal or better spaces.

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See also:

08 Jun 99 | Education
Minister blocks playing field sales
06 Jan 00 | Education
Playing fields sell-out accusation
05 Apr 00 | Education
Playing field sell-offs continue
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