Sebastian Coe’s company, CSM Strategic, which is undertaking a “consultation” on behalf of London Mayor Boris Johnson, was given a brief to restructure the sports facilities at Crystal Palace to best suit the replica Palace development proposed by a Chinese billionaire industrialist, Inside Croydon has learned.
Last month, we revealed that Lord Coe, the double Olympic champion, heads a group which includes a company advising the Greater London Authority, which is running a public consultation that proposes the demolition of Crystal Palace’s athletics stadium.
All four options offered under the consultation propose the bulldozing of the stands surrounding the stadium, which for almost half a century was the home of British athletics. Coe himself set one of his world records on the south London track.
Only two of the options offered retain a track even as a training facility, and none include an indoor training hall, as currently exists and which is used by some of the country’s top sprinters, throwers and jumpers for training.
But the proposals all include an access road, from Crystal Palace Park Road through the present stadium site, apparently for use by the £500 million replica Palace, built on public parkland and which the London Mayor has backed so enthusiastically.
According to Greater London Authority documents seen by Inside Croydon, Coe’s company is being paid £75,000 to conduct the consultation “to inform decisions on the future role of the National Sports Centre (NSC)”.
It is clear from this GLA document that the on-going consultation about sports facilities at Crystal Palace is more about facilitating ZhongRong’s “new Palace” than it is about sporting provision or observing the area’s agreed Masterplan.
Paragraph 1.12 of the GLA document is telling: “The success of the proposed new Palace is inextricably linked to its wider landscape setting, and the two must work together to ensure that the Palace and park together offer a great day out. The addition of a major new cultural attraction in the park means that it is necessary to revisit the masterplan to test which elements should be reconsidered in light of the changed circumstances”.
Or in plan English: find an excuse to bulldoze the athletics stadium, because it is an unsightly blot in the view for our Chinese billionaire’s extravagant scheme.
The GLA document also reveals that the contract to manage the sports facilities at the National Sports Centre will expire on March 31, 2016 – around the time that it is being proposed that the bulldozers move in.
Yet again, this whole process has the appearance of a foregone conclusion, with a “public consultation” being conducted merely to go through the motions of giving local residents a say. Which will then be ignored.
There is a mounting anger at Boris Johnson among residents of the five boroughs (including Croydon) which border Crystal Palace, over the manner in which the replica Palace – which will be larger than the Terminal 1 building at Heathrow airport – is to be built on their historic park.
“Boris wants his officers to pursue a Grand Project which seems to make less and less sense,” one local campaigner said. “He is pushing through the redevelopment of Earls Court against the wishes of local residents, only to push forward plans to build an exhibition-led complex in Crystal Palace.
“He is seemingly set on denying us an Olympic legacy and distorting aspects of the agreed Masterplan of Crystal Palace Park to suit the whims of a Chinese property tycoon, a developer who understandably thinks he’s on a good thing with Boris and wants even more than the top of our park, if machinations over the NSC are to be believed.”
It was in October 2013 that Boris Johnson, together with Shanghai-based billionaire Ni Zhao, announced the ZhongRong Group’s scheme on the terracing of the old Crystal Palace. The secretive plan drawn up by the Chinese group, Tory Mayor and Bromley Council will build on Grade II-listed public parkland to develop a hotel, conference centre and shops.
A named “sponsor” of the scheme, in documents with Bromley and the GLA, is Lady Xuelin Bates, the wife of a Home Office minister, Lord Bates, the former Tory MP Michael Bates; she has donated £162,000 to Conservative Party funds.
After retiring as one of the greatest middle distance runners of all-time, Coe became a Conservative Party MP, until 1997. For much of the past decade, he was the chairman of the bid committee and then organising committee for the London Olympics.
CSM Strategic is part of the Chime group of public relations companies; Coe is reported to be paid £2 million per year as executive chairman of CSM. In 2015, Coe intends to run for election as president of the IAAF, the world governing body of track and field, a position which usually brings with it membership of the International Olympic Committee.
- Assembly Member calls Chinese Palace plans a “fiasco”
- Coe is accused of ‘world-class hypocrisy’ over Palace plans
- £500m Palace developers admit: we don’t know what it’ll do
- Coe’s Palace consultation is extended due to public demand
Coming to Croydon
- St Giles School opening morning, Nov 5
- David Lean Cinema: Two Days, One Night, Nov 6
- Save St Helier film screening: Sell Off, Nov 7
- Park Hill School fireworks display, Nov 7
- Grange Park bulb-planting event, Nov 8
- Streatham-Croydon women’s rugby training, Frant Road, Nov 9
- Brook recording studio open day and party, Nov 9
- David Lean Cinema, Paths of Glory, Nov 11
- Albert Einstein – Relativity Speaking, Spread Eagle, Nov 12-15
- David Lean Cinema, Ida, Nov 13
- Oval Tavern Folk Club, Nov 14
- South Croydon business breakfast, Nov 15
- Wandle Park community garden work day, Nov 16
- Streatham-Croydon women’s rugby training, Frant Road, Nov 16
- Personal safety training for volunteers, Nov 17
- David Lean Cinema, Effie Gray, Nov 20
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
- Choose Your Own Documentary, Spread Eagle Theatre, Nov 21-22
- David Lean Cinema, Lilting, Nov 22
- Streatham-Croydon women’s rugby training, Frant Road, Nov 23
- David Lean Cinema, Wakolda, Nov 27
- The Last Sense of Sudden, Spread Eagle Theatre, Nov 27-29
- Ghost Stories for Christmas, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 3
- Fog Horn Funnies, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 6
- Coulsdon Yulefest, Dec 6-7
- Oval Tavern Folk Club, Dec 7
- South Croydon business breakfast, Dec 13
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
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