SPORTS playing pitches are to be protected in the borough with investment sought to develop new ones, Dudley Council has promised after a report revealed a shortfall in football and cricket pitches.

The council’s ruling cabinet discussed the recently published Playing Pitch & Outdoor Sport Strategy for the borough at a meeting last week.

The report, prepared by consultants KKP, looked at supply and demand for athletics, cricket, football, hockey and rugby union pitches across the borough.

Consultants also looked at provision for tennis, bowls, cycling, golf, netball, rugby league and watersports such as sailing and water skiing.

The report concluded there was a shortfall in football and cricket pitches across the borough, and this would likely to increase over time if no action is taken.

It outlined a desire to create at least one dedicated hockey pitch in the borough, and pledged to protect cycling and athletics facilities hugely in demand at The Dell Stadium in Brierley Hill and Manor Way, Halesowen.

The findings will be used to help form the Dudley Plan, which will focus on housing and employment needs to inform planning decisions and developments up to 2041.

Councillor Paul Bradley, deputy leader of the council, said: "We are committed to protecting our green spaces from development, and this includes sports pitches across the borough.

"The report shows we already do not have enough of them in certain sports, and so we absolutely cannot afford to lose any for housing or other developments.

"We will be seeking funding by working with external bodies such as Sport England to do all we can to provide extra provision, either by creating new sites or opening up under-used existing facilities.

"We need to have the facilities to give the borough the chance to develop the sporting stars of the future."