The Olympics are coming to London. So what provision is there in or around Croydon for the major Olympic sport? One organisation trying to do something about it, with little or no public money, describes the provision in the south of the borough as “an athletics blackhole”.
Of course, there’s Croydon Arena, home of Croydon Harriers, where we won’t be seeing any capital spending by the council any time soon (presumably because there’s no senior Tory councillors or officers on the board of directors).
Just outside Croydon, there’s Sutton and Kingsmeadow to the west, Tooting to the north of the borough. And right at the far reaches of the borough boundary, of course, there’s the Grand Old Lady of British athletics, Crystal Palace, tolerated but unloved by most of those in the sport, and with its future post-2012 uncertain.
So a public meeting at Woodcote High School next week could be crucial for improved provision, especially to the south of London’s most populated borough, with the Track Coulsdon project up for debate, and the possibility that South London Harriers – the club of Alf Shrubb, Gordon Pirie and Anne Roden – at last getting a proper track of their own.
Proposing to use a school playing field for the site of the track, the trust working towards the scheme has already raised £380,000, a decent-sized chunk of the costs.
But the people behind the scheme – mainly the school and SLH – are anxious to engage with neighbours and other locals to address any concerns that they may have at a meeting, to be held at the school’s learning media centre from 5.30pm on July 12.
In a leaflet produced this week, Track Coulsdon say: “As with any project, rumour and confusion over facts can be areas of concern for all parties involved…
“The school field is classified as mixed educational land not Green Belt, therefore different planning constraints apply. There will be no loss of playing space for Woodcote High pupils, the benefits of having a flat running track and a flat fully drained football pitch far outweigh the disadvantages of relocating one of our current football pitches to a different part of the field.
“This is a community initiative brought about by partnership with key community groups. The school and South London Harriers have no intention of adding a stadium to the running track.
“Lighting for the project will be state of the art, low level, downward projecting, non-light polluting in nature. Not a single pound of school money will go into the project, therefore the education of the pupils at Woodcote High School will not be damaged in any way, and indeed will be enhanced by this facility.
“Woodcote High School currently has no breaches of planning with Croydon Council from any of its building projects and we are working with the planners to fulfill all our commitments for previous planning applications.”
- Inside Croydon would like to hear from locals and parents of pupils at the school: what do you think of the scheme? Will having an athletics track at the school significantly add or detract from local provision?
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