One of the many challenges facing landowners and managers of parks and green spaces is how to cater for everyone's needs; green spaces are places to play sport, exercise, meet friends, and just enjoy being in the open air.
Fields in Trust recognises that the landowners are best placed to manage their protected spaces.
Of all the threats facing us today, climate change and the current generation of children being largely inactive are arguably two of the biggest. Many grass pitches are not usable for some parts of the winter due to flooding; a problem that will only increase, due to global warming. Artificial pitches, as well as not having this problem, will sustain many more games in a week than grass pitches, enabling more people to be active and enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of sport and physical activity.
Replacing a grass sports pitch with artificial grass will not be a decision that's taken lightly by a landowner, not least because they are expensive. Funders have stringent conditions relating to the strategic need for such a facility, as well as the suitability of the site itself.
The focus of the build will be sustainability and making the pitch as environmentally friendly as possible, consideration will be given to the whole life of the pitch and its carbon footprint. Sport England provides detailed guidance on all aspects of the build. Sport Scotland have also produced guidance.
The latest generation of all-weather playing surfaces utilise sustainable materials and need less energy to maintain, and there are now hybrid pitches which look more like natural grass but have the resilience of artificial grass. Sport England is working with the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), SAPCA and Public Health England (PHE) to ensure that the sports sector is at the forefront of new technological developments.
Artificial pitches do require planning permission and this is a further process to ensure that the right pitch is in the right place. As the planning process is a public forum, this is the opportunity for people to register their support or opposition to a proposal.