Coe’s Palace consultation is extended due to public demand

Campaigners fighting to save Crystal Palace as an Olympic legacy training venue were claiming a small victory last night, when the Greater London Authority announced that it had been so overwhelmed with responses to a consultation on the future of the sports centre that it was extending its duration.

Until the opening of London's Olympic Stadium, no other venue in Britain has ever managed to attract the crowds as Crystal Palace regularly did

Until the opening of London’s Olympic Stadium, no other venue in Britain has ever managed to attract the crowds as Crystal Palace regularly did

Earlier this month, Inside Croydon revealed that the brief, two-week consultation was being managed on behalf of the GLA by CSM Strategic, a company headed by Sebastian Coe, the former chairman of the London Olympic organising committee. Former Conservative MP Lord Coe is reported to be paid £2 million per year for his role with CSM.

CSM Strategic has put forward four possible schemes for a £10 million overhaul of the sports centre, which for half a century was the home of British athletics and the scene of 22 world records. Of the proposals, two suggest the complete demolition of the running track and stands. None of the proposals provide for a replacement of the important indoor training area.

The athletics facilities at Crystal Palace are used by local clubs such as Croydon Harriers and South London Harriers, as well as sportspeople from across south-east England.

Residents and users of the National Sports Centre, or NSC, are concerned that the athletics facilities promised as part of the London 2012 Olympic legacy are being sacrificed to satisfy the demands of the ZhongRong Group, the Chinese corporation which has a £500million proposal, backed by London Mayor Boris Johnson, to build a replica of Paxton’s Crystal Palace on the top of the hill. They point to maps of the proposals which show access roads for the replica palace, that run through the public park and the current stadium site.

Lord Coe and Lady Xuelin Bates, one of the named sponsors of the ZhongRong Palace scheme, at the London Olympics in 2012

Lord Coe and Lady Xuelin Bates, one of the named sponsors of the ZhongRong Palace scheme, at the London Olympics in 2012

If all the plans for the stadium demolition and replica glass palace go through, at least one-third of Crystal Palace Park will be handed over from public use to private ownership.

In a statement issued last night, Malcolm Beadle, the GLA’s senior manager for land, estates and property, said, “We have been really encouraged by the strong response following the launch of the public consultation on the future of the NSC.

“Public engagement has already been extensive, and we want give as many people as possible the opportunity to feed in their views. We know that a number of groups have meetings planned to formulate a collective response. Therefore, it has been decided to extend the consultation period until November 16.”

One local resident did air a note of caution. “This is not a victory for the campaigners, not by a long chalk. The public response has been very heartening, but by extending the consultation it is possible, of course, for those who approve of the proposals to put forward their views.”

John Powell, one of the athletics coaches based at Crystal Palace, has been appointed to chair a campaign group. He welcomed the extension, but called on anyone who had yet to review the proposals and submit their comments to the consultation to take this extra opportunity to do so.

Powell’s Crystal Palace Sports Partnership has a Facebook page, here.

 


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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