Coe’s company was given brief to bulldoze sports stadium

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.

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

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

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.

How Crystal Palace Park could look according to a map provided by the CSM-run consultation. Notice the absence of a track. Or indoor training area...

How Crystal Palace Park could look according to a map provided by the CSM-run consultation. Notice the absence of a track. Or indoor training area… And the presence of the “access” road

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.

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

“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.


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About insidecroydon

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
This entry was posted in 2012 Olympics, Athletics, Boris Johnson, Bromley Council, Business, Community associations, Croydon Harriers, Crystal Palace Community Association, Crystal Palace Park, Environment, London-wide issues, Mayor of London, Sport and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Coe’s company was given brief to bulldoze sports stadium

  1. Simple, learn, remember: don’t ever trust Tories. Smaller, just as important lesson, mistrust any party in power. The power will corrupt.

    Like

  2. CSM Strategic has not been appointed to bulldoze the stadium. CSM Strategic is a sports consultancy. The team for this project also included financial advisors, architects and a market research agency. The project brief was to undertake an appraisal of options for the future development of Crystal Palace National Sports Centre and the adjoining athletics stadium, following which the GLA selected a number of concepts for public consultation. The project is separate from the ZhongRong Group’s Crystal Palace redevelopment and CSM has no connections with the ZhongRong Group.

    Helen Rowbotham
    Director, CSM Strategic

    Like

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