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Research LibrarySport & Environment

Guidance for Outdoor Sport and Play Beyond the Six Acre Standard

By 2 June 2020No Comments
Fields in Trust
Published: April 2018


This report from Fields in Trust provides guidelines for practitioners in the planning and design of outdoor sport, play, and informal open space. It considers the substantial changes in the political, planning, and social landscape since open space guidance was last updated in 2008, with Scottish planning policy increasingly committed to open space reform.


The report bases its guidance on the Fields in Trust Policy Framework, which seeks the protection, provision, and improvement of outdoor spaces for sport and play as part of the provision of sustainable communities. Guidance is provided for the rates of provision and sizes, as well as recommendations for quality and accessibility, for both formal and informal outdoor space. Benchmark guidelines reflect the findings of the survey of local standards for open space applied by local planning authorities.

Key Findings

Benchmark guidelines recommend 1.60 hectares per 1000 population of all formal outdoor sport, and 1.20 for playing pitches. Both should be no further than 1200 metres (or 15 minutes) walking distance from dwelling. With regards to designated informal play space, a local area for play (LAP) should be present every 5-10 dwellings and a locally equipped area for play (LEAP) every 10-200 dwellings. Recommendations for parks and gardens are 0.80 hectares per 1000 population, with a max walking distance of 710 metres, and 0.60 for amenity green spaces with a max walking distance of 480 metres. Quality guidelines are applied to encourage safe, secure and fit for purpose facilities, whilst the recommended minimum spatial requirements allow for safety margins with appropriate buffer zones to reduce the possibility of conflict with local residents.


This report will be of use to practitioners such as local planning authorities, developers, planners and urban designers, landscape architects, and parish and town councils. Green spaces both formal and informal have important benefits for community health and wellbeing and aligns with the current Scottish policy priorities emphasising sustainability.