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National Playing Fields Association

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National Playing Fields Association

The National Playing Fields Association (NPFA), from 2007 rebranded as Fields in Trust (FIT), was founded in 1925 and granted a charity[1] which aims to protect and promote open spaces for sports and recreation in British cities and towns.

As well as campaigning to protect playing fields and open space, the NPFA is the owner of the King George V.


  • History 1
  • Objectives 2
  • Land holdings 3
  • King George's Field 4
  • Six Acre Standard 5
  • The New Six Acre Standard 6
  • Notable people 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes 9
  • External links 10


The National Playing Fields Association (NPFA) is the major United Kingdom organisation dedicated to the provision of recreational space. It has the specific objective of acquiring, protecting and improving playing fields, playgrounds and playspace where they are most needed, and for those who need them most – in particular, children of all ages and people with disabilities.

The NPFA was set up in 1925 by Brigadier-General Reginald Kentish to provide healthy recreation opportunities for local communities throughout the United Kingdom. It protects and develops playing fields and play areas and it campaigns nationally for community recreational space. It manages around 13,000 acres of such provision nationwide through County Playing Fields Associations and other organisations.

The NPFA was founded by the The Queen as Patron and The Duke of Edinburgh as President.

The NPFA is a charity incorporated by Royal Charter in 1932. The Charity’s affairs are conducted through its Council which meets quarterly to set the policy of the Association and to oversee its work. However, the NPFA is also linked to many bodies and membership of the organisation includes local authorities, individuals, playing field associations, schools and sports clubs. In 1972, NPFA supported the Bishop of Stepney, Trevor Huddleston, after his letter to The Times (31 July) denouncing the lack of play provision which had led to the deaths by drowning of 2 boys who lived in his diocese. This gave the impetus to the Fair Play for Children campaign.

NPFA has set standards for playground provision in the UK through The 6 Acre Standard which is widely used by local authorities as a basis, for erxample when stipulating play area provision for new housing development, and in local play policies.

The Duke of Edinburgh has been a generous and enthusiastic President since 1947; the Queen became Patron in 1952.


Recommendations on Outdoor Playing Space were first formulated in 1925, soon after the Association’s formation. This helped ensure that every man, woman and child in Great Britain should have the opportunity of participating in outdoor recreational activity within a reasonable distance of home during leisure hours. The NPFA urged all local authorities to adopt a minimum standard of provision of 5 acres (20,000 m2) of public open space for every 1,000 people, of which at least 4 acres (16,000 m2) should be set aside for team games, tennis, bowls and children’s playgrounds.

Since then, the NPFA has kept the recreational space standard under regular review. It now stands as the Six Acre Standard, recommending 6 acres (24,000 m2) per 1,000 head of population as a minimum necessity for space.

In 1992, the Association revised its recommendations on recreational space to include the Children’s Playing Space Standard aspect of the Six Acre Standard. Part of the recommendation then was a general statement of the need for adequate children’s playing space. Planners, developers and local authorities paid too little attention to play needs when they considered proposals for new housing developments. While such plans always included provision for adequate parking space for cars, there was often no similar requirement for playing space for children.

Children are the greatest users of the outdoor environment, but the streets in residential areas have been designed primarily for use by cars, and have been virtually taken over by them. The sheer volume of traffic has come to dominate their lives, and the process of play, it is therefore clear that firm and realistic guidelines on children’s playing space provision are urgently needed.

Land holdings

The NPFA supervises the property over which the Association acts as Guardian Trustee and ensures that it retains its charitable purpose.

The NPFA has a role in the protection of over 2,000 fields across the United Kingdom. In total, the NPFA’s land portfolio represents an interest over 13,000 acres (53 km²). More than half of the sites were funded in the 1920s and 1930s by the NPFA and the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust on the basis that the land would be kept as public playing fields in perpetuity. In all of its work, the NPFA is assisted by affiliated national and county associations and other partners.

King George's Field

The NPFA is the Trustee of the King George’s Fields Foundation (KGFF). The Foundation was established as a Memorial to the Late King George V by

The Trust defined a playing field as ‘any open space used for the purpose of outdoor games, sports and pastimes’.

These playing fields have their origins in an appeal launched shortly after the death of George V in March 1936. Rather than finance the entire cost of a few schemes, grants were given towards the cost of as many fields as possible, the balance being raised by the local authority or other organisation providing the field and accepting responsibility for its maintenance. In most cases, the responsible body entered into a Deed of Dedication declaring that the recreation ground shall "be preserved in perpetuity as a Memorial to His Late Majesty under the provisions of the KGFF and shall henceforth be known as a 'King George’s Field'." The NPFA would act, as administrator, to look at and consider proposals in order to allocate grants.

A Charity Commission Scheme was made on 1 December 1965 passing the trusteeship of the Foundation to the NPFA and, among other things, widening the objects of the Foundation to include the "preservation" of the King George’s Fields.

Six Acre Standard

The Six Acre Standard aims to help land use planners ensure a sufficient level of open space to enable residents of all ages to participate in sports and games with an emphasis on access for children to play grounds and other play space.

The standard suggests that for each 1000 residents there should be 2.4 hectares (6 acres) as follows.

  • 1.6 hectares (4 acres) for outdoor sport and recreation space (including parks)
  • 0.8 hectares (2 acres) for children's play, with about 0.25 ha of this equipped playgrounds

In its publication The Six Acre Standard, the NPFA outlines a more detailed breakdown including a hierarchy of child play space.

The New Six Acre Standard

The Six Acre Standard has been reissued under the new name Planning and Design for Outdoor Sport and Play. It is a well regarded referencework for planners in the UK. It has been updated to include the modern planning regime and new topics such as sustainability and the local environment.These areas come under the heading "Open Space". which refers to all open space,and is deemed as a community asset, and value, and is protected by legislation in the Core Strategy (2006-2026).

Child sport fields, on educational land is not recorded as "Open Space", and is not protected by Open Space legislation. However any change of use of educational land requires local or national government approval. The government decisions can be contested by the local community.

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ The National Playing Fields Association is a registered charity (No. 306070) incorporated under Royal Charter (Company No. RC000370)
  2. ^ The National Playing Fields Association on King George's Fields
  3. ^ Source - The National Playing Fields Association. See Talk page.

External links

  • Fields in Trust
  • National Playing Fields Association, Registered Charity no. 306070 at the Charity Commission
  • Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge
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