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Raynsford consultation gives buildings a sporting chance

Developers will have to win planning permission before they can try and demolish sports buildings if regulations unveiled by planning minister Nick Raynsford last week make it through consultation.

Speaking in response to a parliamentary question from Roger Casale MP, Raynsford said that his Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) has issued a consultation paper inviting views on the measure, which is intended to provide a safeguard for local sports facilities.'This small but important measure further underlines the government's commitment to creating sporting opportunities for everyone, as set out in our sports strategy, A Sporting Future for All, ' he said.

That strategy, which was issued jointly by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education and Employment in April 2000, can be found on the Internet at www. culture. gov. uk A hole in legislation, which this move is intended to plug, arose after a landowner refused to renew the tenancy of a tennis club in Thames Ditton in a bid to demolish it and redevelop the site for residential use.The case went to the Court of Appeal, which found that digging the club up did actually require planning permission, but it highlighted the fact that most sporting buildings could be demolished without the local authority being given a chance to consider the implications.

However, a DETR spokesman said that it may be a matter to be brought up in consultation as to what actually constitutes a sports building, when asked whether a bowling alley or bowling green, for example, fits the definition.

Comments on the consultation are requested by 27 October.

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