Fields in Trust champions and supports our parks and green spaces by protecting them for people to enjoy in perpetuity.

Fields in Trust works in partnership with landowners including local authorities, voluntary organisations and private landowners to protect publicly accessible green spaces. Fields in Trust currently protects more than 2,800 parks and green spaces through a variety of legal means including charitable status, site ownership and contractual arrangements such as Deeds of Dedication, Deeds of Covenant and Minutes of Agreement.

All these spaces are locally managed, but we have a responsibility to ensure any changes regarding land ownership, land transactions, erection of buildings and structures continue to align with the stated purpose of the site and benefit the recreational use of the site. Our in-house solicitor will carry out a full assessment.

 

When consent from Fields in Trust is required

Consent requirements vary according to the legal agreements in place and further guidance is provided below. Please note that Fields in Trust’s consent, when required, is necessary irrespective of any other legal requirements. To establish whether Fields in Trust’s consent is required for a specific change you should first check the governing instruments relating to the space. These may include conveyances, transfer documents, deeds and Land Registry office copy entries. These documents will provide the basis and justification for seeking any consents from Fields in Trust. You should also consider whether you wish to seek independent legal advice.

The majority of matters requiring our consent fall into the categories below:

  • Granting of a lease, for example to a local sports club
  • A release or transfer of land
  • Granting of an interest such as a wayleave, easement or servitude or certain rights of entry
  • Some revisions to existing buildings, new building or structures, including car parks

Please use our online self-assessment tool to decide if you need to submit a Field Change Request for the changes you are planning.

 

The process for obtaining consent from Fields in Trust

Please submit full details about your proposal using our online Field Change Request application form. Please ensure you submit all the supplementary documents as requested to enable us to make a full assessment.

It should be appreciated that when considering whether to approve Change Requests, Fields in Trust has its own criteria that it must apply, especially on charitable sites, and it is unlikely that Fields in Trust will simply be able to rubber-stamp arrangements already concluded between the applicant and other parties. To avoid disappointment applicants are therefore encouraged to engage with Fields in Trust at an early opportunity and before discussions have progressed too far with other interested stakeholders.

Any request concerning disposals, which includes leases, land transactions, wayleaves and easements, will be assessed against our guidance notes.

 

How a decision is made by Fields in Trust

To enable us to respond to requests efficiently, decisions are delegated to our Land and Planning Committee which is a representative group of Trustees with the greatest relevant experience. For matters relating to sites in Scotland and Wales decisions are taken by the Fields in Trust Scotland Committee or Fields in Trust Cymru Committee. The Executive also have authority to decide certain types of requests. Decisions on applications will be made on a monthly basis, and subsequently communicated to the applying organisation. We reserve the right to refer any application to our full Council which meets quarterly. Decisions are normally granted in principle subject to a number of conditions being met. Examples of such conditions have been given in the relevant sections below.

 

Completing the application form

For the vast majority of requests, we will require various supporting documents so please ensure you provide them with your application otherwise it could delay the process. Below you can find some further guidance to help you complete the form.

 

General information about the space and the proposal

We would normally expect to see an application made by the Landowner. If you are the leaseholder or Managing Trustee of the site you can still submit a request but you will need to involve the Landowner at the outset and we will need to see evidence to that effect. Please use this section to give an outline of your proposal, including why it is needed and how it will benefit the site and its users.

If the land is held charitably then the Charity regulator may need to be consulted about the need for their consent to your proposal. If the site is not held charitably there may be other legislation relating to a disposal that needs to be adhered to. It is your responsibility to check.

 

Planning Permission and consultations

Any consent granted by Fields in Trust is conditional upon you obtaining the necessary planning permission through the local Planning Authority. It is possible to apply for planning permission before contacting Fields in Trust, or after obtaining our consent, or for both applications to run concurrently. In certain cases, we may ask you to obtain planning permission before we assess your proposal. We would also like to know about the outcomes of any consultation you have undertaken about your proposal. Even if there have been objections it will not necessarily mean we will withhold our consent.

 

Specific details about your request

Please use this section to give specific details about your request and answer all the relevant questions, for example in some cases your request might involve a lease and a building.

 

Request for installation of fencing

Temporary and permanent fencing which does not restrict public access and is considered ancillary to the recreational use doesn’t require our consent. Temporary fencing for maintenance reasons or erected for the duration of football matches is permissible. Permanent secure fencing which seeks to restrict general public access by keeping the gates locked requires our consent. Key considerations are the reasons for erecting a permanent fence and the proportion of the protected space that will be affected. The applicant will need to demonstrate that sufficient green space remains freely accessible for the needs of the local community. Fields in Trust does not generally support fencing higher than two metres.

 

Request for an event or a festival

Relevant considerations are the extent of the green space required, duration of the event and its impact on the green space and its use. If any sport clubs and/or regular users will be affected, Fields in Trust would expect to see alternative provisions for these users for the duration of the event.

If the proposed event is approved by Fields in Trust, it will typically be subject to conditions including reinstatement of the affected green space and reinvestment of any profit in the recreational use of the green space.

 

Request for a release of land from Fields in Trust protection

Where the landowner wishes to transfer part of the protected space for use incompatible with the permitted use under the Deed of Dedication, or wish to erect a non-ancillary building, an application can be submitted for release of the area in question. Such requests will be considered in accordance with our Disposal Policy. The applicant is required to address how the proposed replacement land meets with the requirements of this policy. In the majority of cases, Fields in Trust will want to see evidence of consultations carried out with the local community, and the results of the consultations.

 

Request for a transfer of protected land to another landowner

In these cases, Fields in Trust's concerns are with the impact of the proposal on existing recreational activities and any strategic plans in terms of facility development. Normally consent to a transfer of land would be conditional on the proposed transferee entering into a Deed of Dedication with Fields in Trust.

 

Request for a change of use of land from recreational to non-recreational

Any change of use must be consistent with Fields in Trust's charitable objectives and it is likely that any other use will not be acceptable. Therefore the applicant may wish to put forward replacement land in accordance with our Disposal Policy.

The most common request for change of use relating to open green space is temporary use for a compound site to facilitate works within/outside the protected site. Key considerations are the extent of the area required, duration of the use, any compensation offered for the loss of recreational use and reinstatement obligations.

 

Request for change of Holding Trustee

Where the protected green space is registered in the name of individual Trustees and a Trustee is being replaced, or a new Trustee is being appointed, a Deed of Appointment and Retirement of Trustee or a Transfer Deed will be required for the change to take effect. In order to consider the proposal, we require a copy of the proposed Deed and our approval is given on condition that a new Deed is entered into with Fields in Trust to transfer the rights and obligations under the Deed of Dedication to the new Trustee.

 

Request for granting of a Legal Charge

Usually, such a request is linked to other developments on the site that may require Fields in Trust approval so please make sure that you complete all the relevant sections in the application form concerning the proposed development. If the proposed legal charge relates to Sport England funding, please make Sport England aware that the site is protected with Fields in Trust as they will replace their requirement with a Deed of Dedication. The user clause in Sport England's Deed of Dedication will need to align with the user clause in the existing Fields in Trust Deed of Dedication.

 

Request for granting of a Licence giving exclusive use

The permitted use in the Licence must be within the user clause of the Deed of Dedication, or ancillary to that use or complement the permitted use. A Licence to a sports club should provide some access to the general public when not in use by the club. In addition, the sports club must have an open membership and the membership fees should not be prohibitive. The application must be accompanied by a copy of the club’s constitution, draft Licence and associated plan showing the extent of the land to be included in the Licence edged or shaded in colour. We need to know what level of public access will be allowed and when. If any part of the site will have no free public access, you must specify which part and explain the reason for that.

 

Request for granting of an Easement, Servitude or Wayleave

The vast majority of easements, servitudes and wayleaves concern grant of rights to utility companies to allow them to install underground apparatus. It is an essential requirement that the grantee undertakes to reinstate the site following completion of works. The proposed route for the Easement, Servitude or Wayleave must not compromise the use of the green space for outdoor sport, recreation or play.

A standard condition attached to granting consent for such a proposal is that the landowner must reinvest any financial gain in improvements to or maintenance of the site. In relation to charitable sites, another condition would be compliance with the disposal provisions of the Charities Act 2011.

If the Easement rights are included in a Lease relating to land not falling within the dedicated site, but rights are granted over the dedicated site, you need to provide a copy of the Lease including a plan so we can assess what the effect would be on the use of the dedicated site.

 

Request for granting of a Lease or Sub-Lease

In order to assess your proposal, we require a copy of the Heads of Terms of the proposed Lease or a draft Lease which should include information on rent, permitted use, alterations, subleasing, assignment and security of tenure. When considering granting a lease, we advise due consideration is also given to alternative solutions which may be more cost effective, such as a licence or management agreement. Broadly we would expect to see the following provisions in the proposed Lease:

  • Permitted use is within the user clause of the Deed of Dedication, or is ancillary to that use or complements the permitted use.
  • A lease to a sports club should provide some access to the general public when not in use by the club. In addition, the sports club must have an open membership and the membership fees should not be prohibitive. A copy of the club’s constitution and evidence of reasonable membership fees are required.
  • The landlord must be willing to reinvest any financial gain in improvements to or maintenance of the remainder of the site.
  • The security of tenure provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 must be excluded from the lease.
  • Absolute prohibition on alienation or alienation requires the Landlord’s consent.
  • Alterations to the premises is either prohibited or requires the Landlord’s consent.
  • If the site is held on charitable trust, evidence is required of compliance with the Charities Act 2011 (if available at the time of the request).

In England and Wales, the security of tenure provisions in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 means the leaseholder has the right to seek a new tenancy when the current one ends. However, where land is for community-use it is not always appropriate for the method of management to stay the same, we therefore recommend that all leases have no provision for automatic renewal and the lease is contracted out of the security of tenure provisions. Please note that the equivalent legislation does not exist in Scotland.

Many organisations requesting a lease are non-corporate bodies. A corporate body is one that has perpetual succession and a legal identity distinct from that of its members; this includes local authorities of all types, companies limited by guarantee, companies with limited or unlimited liability, bodies created by statute and more recently charitable incorporated organisations. Where the proposed leaseholder is not a corporate body, the individuals who sign the lease acquire the obligations within the lease both collectively, and individually. In these cases, you will need to give further consideration in assessing the viability of the proposed leaseholder.

As the landowner you may charge a nominal rent, even if the proposed lease is on a charitable site. If nominal rent is to be charged on a charitable site in England and Wales, then we ask to see a copy of the report undertaken under the Charities (Qualified Surveyors' Reports) Regulations 1992. If your application is approved it would likely be subject to a number of conditions being met including an undertaking that rent payments will be reinvested in the site and inclusion of certain provisions in the lease, such as any of the considerations listed above. We usually require a Fields in Trust third party clause to be inserted in the lease and in some cases a Deed of Dedication with the leaseholder will be required. A copy of the agreed lease complying with the conditional consent will need to be provided in order for us to issue a Land Registry certificate to enable the applicant to register the lease at the Land Registry.

 

Request for granting of a Lease Assignment

You will need to provide us with a copy of the existing Lease, a draft Transfer Deed and a copy of the assignee’s constitution. If the assignee is a sport club, they must have open membership rules and provide details about their membership fees.

 

Request for a new building, structure or extension

Fields in Trust always encourage the minimum number of buildings on a site in order to maximise recreational space. Fields in Trust’s main concern is with the use, footprint and location rather than the design. Multi-storey buildings can be advantageous in providing ancillary facilities without adversely affecting the quantity of outdoor recreational area. With regard to structures, the primary concern is again the use, footprint and location. A request for a building or structure often involves granting of a lease so please ensure all the relevant sections in the application form relating to these are also completed.

The building or structure must fit with the purpose of the site and benefit the recreational use and users of the site. In the first instance please check the legal documents relating to the site. Please include in this application as much details as possible in respect of the use of the proposed new building, including an explanation how it is compatible with the recreational use of the site and how the building will benefit the recreational use of the site. Are there other community or commercial benefits arising out of the building proposals – if so, what financial or other considerations will be made available towards the upkeep or further recreational development of the site?

If the proposed building or structure is temporary then is the location, timescale and reinstatement arrangements the most appropriate that can be negotiated for the space? You do not need to seek Fields in Trust consent for temporary structures to be installed for the duration of an event or festival unless the festival or event will occupy more than 25% of the protected space.

We would also seek assurances that throughout the construction work, until completion, all reasonable precautions are taken to avoid obstruction to or interference with site users; and once completed the building/car park are kept in proper repair and condition.

Please see our Policy on Building Uses for further details.

If the proposed use is not compatible with the agreed use of the site, this will be considered in accordance with our Disposal Policy which means that replacement land would be expected to be put forward.

 

Request for a change of use of an existing building or structure

Please see our Policy on Building Uses which sets out the relevant considerations and our requirements.

 

Request for work relating to a car park

Please ensure that details of the size of the proposed car park and the number of the proposed car parking spaces are included in the application form. If there is an existing car park within the green space, please state the number of the existing car parking spaces. If the request is approved, it will likely be on condition that the car park is used solely by the users of the site. We would expect you to implement measures to ensure this use is complied with if necessary. If the car park will not be restricted to only the users of the site, you will need to offer an alternative green space to be dedicated in accordance with our Disposal Policy.

 

Installation of telecommunications apparatus and structures

The telecommunication operators benefit from various rights contained in the Telecommunication Code 2017, however each application will be considered on its own merits with particular regard to the physical characteristics of the site and its surroundings taking into account the Code rights. The proposed location of the structure must not interfere with the optimum layout and orientation of sports pitches or other play or recreational facilities on the site and the route of access for service vehicles to the apparatus must not cross the area of any sports pitch or any other play or recreational facility. We recommend that the landowner obtains a valuation from a surveyor as to the rent/compensation for the grant of the Code rights. In the case of a recreation ground held on charitable trust or by a charity, this is a compulsory requirement of the Charities Act 2011. The agreement with the telecom operator must always contain provisions requiring the operator to reinstate the site after the works have completed. The operator must indemnify and the landowner and the site managers/occupiers against all claims that may arise from the presence of telecommunications apparatus on the site. The operator must observe the terms of the “Code of Best Practice on Mobile Phone Network Development” (version 2016 in England or 2021 in Wales (as applicable)), or such equivalent guidance as may vary or replace it. The apparatus and/or structures must be removed, as soon as reasonably practicable, after they are no longer required for telecommunication purposes. The operator will be required to provide a bond, of not less than £10,000, to ensure that such works can be undertaken in the event of non-compliance or if it ceases to remain in business.

For further guidance and advice please email changerequests@fieldsintrust.org.