THE SPACE available for each person on England's playing fields is just under 140sq ft (43sq m) the area covered by a football goal net, according to a survey yesterday.
It shows that England has 73,049 sports pitches on 24,380 sites, covering a total area of 150,304 acres (60,828 hectares) of land. Outside London, 404 sites are under threat from development with planning permission either already granted or being sought.
A detailed register, containing enough information to fill a book four times the size of War and Peace and thought to be the largest of its kind in the world, has been compiled by the management consultants Coopers and Lybrand, and the south-east regional research laboratory at Birkbeck College, London University.
The pounds 500,000 project, funded by the Department of National Heritage, was commissioned by the Sports Council, the National Playing Fields Association and the Central Council of Physical Recreation.
'This is the first detailed and reliable picture we have ever had of playing pitch provision in England, the country which invented most of the major pitch sports,' the Sports Council's vice-chairman, Professor Allan Patmore, said.
The chairman of the National Playing Fields Association, Christopher Laing, said the register would be regularly updated.
'This will give us better evidence and stronger grounds for arguing against critical losses of playing space through disposal,' he said.
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