Weeks left to act against dramatic Greater London Authority plans for the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre
One of the most iconic sporting venues in the UK, could be only weeks away from having the indoor athletics track, 25m family swimming pool, and main stadium demolished.
Much of Crystal Palace National Sports Centre (CPNSC) as we have always known it will be razed to the ground if the shortlisted options from the recently published Greater London Authority (GLA) CPNSC Development Options Appraisal Final Report 2015 are executed, claim the Crystal Palace Sports Partnership (CPSP).
In July the GLA are looking to grant approval for funding which could decimate athletics in South London, despite a huge groundswell of public opinion both from the GLA six-week community consultation run by CSM Strategic in October 2014, and the 4,000 signature CPSP petition, that strongly oppose the loss of sporting provision.
Over 2,500 people submitted responses to the GLA consultation, of which the CPNSC Development Options Appraisal Final Report reports back on. Almost three quarters of respondents (71%) were against a wide range of issues, ranging from the potential loss of diving facilities due to the introduction of a moveable floor, loss of the indoor athletics track, weightlifting and 25m swimming pool.
As the recently commissioned CPSP indoor and outdoor track audit demonstrated, annual usage of both tracks is estimated at 22,000 separate visits, contradicting the CSM report, which says ‘usage is limited’. As British 200 metre record holder John Regis states, any loss of the indoor track will be devastating, ‘This will be a hammer blow to athletics. The indoor track is a vital facility in one of the highest areas of track and field participation in the country, developing thousands of young aspiring and elite athletes all year round.’
Chairman of CPSP, John Powell MBE, an athletics coach at Crystal Palace for the past 40 years, confirmed that fiscal-based decisions were over-ruling what the public consultation demanded:
‘The GLA are only committing a finite amount of cash to this project, and unless we provide a robust assessment of sporting need for strategic planning for the centre, the current plans could be catastrophic for sport in London, and reduce sports participation levels in South London for generations to come. What sort of legacy is that?
‘We know the place needs enhancement and change, and my Partnership Board have worked tirelessly over recent months with the GLA and others to find a sustainable future for the centre. This has included exploring development options based on the Crystal Palace park’s Masterplan for the stadium area with a repositioned indoor track, and seeking development partners.
The future of Crystal Palace National Sports Centre is very much still in the melting pot, with an extension of the current GLL contract an option (currently set to finish March 2016). The London Mayoral elections due early in 2016 could, however, change everything, but as things stand, with GLA investment levels seemingly set to reduce their subsidy to minimum levels, and the lack of an integrated approach and vision for it to become a 21st century centre of excellence, the future appears to remain bleak’.