The latest draft of plans for the future of the National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace “falls way short” and is “unrealistic”, according to the campaign group which represents thousands of users of the Olympic legacy sports facilities.
There is a public consultation event at the centre this Saturday, February 9, to be hosted by the Greater London Authority’s consultants.
Symbolic of the consultants’ lack of consideration for the venue and its activities, their chosen date clashes with a major swimming championships being staged at Crystal Palace, causing issues around parking and over-crowding, as well as problems of individuals’ availability due to competitions elsewhere on a Saturday for many centre users.
The Crystal Palace Sports Partnership, made up of centre users, their coaches and sports clubs from across south London and south-east England, has reviewed the proposals and warned of significant concerns over key elements that could compromise the entire future of the site’s operations.
CPSP says that the plans are often “unrealistic”, citing concerns over the proposals including inadequate parking space, poor accessibility, a lack of commitment to enhance the 25-metre pool, questionable dimensions of an indoor track facility and risk of permanent loss of the indoor dome – a huge blow to local footballers.
“There are aspects of the GLA plan which are promising, but it falls way short of what many thousands of users will be hoping for,” said John Powell, the chair of CPSP who has trained and coached Olympic calibre track athletes at Crystal Palace for four decades.
The proposals are the latest round of reviews of the centre, which has suffered from neglect and under-funding by local authorities for many years, but especially since the national governing body of athletics moved its capital events north of the Thames after London won the bid to stage the 2012 Olympics.
In 2017, the Mayor of London appointed the latest firm of consultants, Neil Allen Associates, to report on the sporting needs served by the NSC. The report recommends a considerable down-scaling of the stadium, including the demolition of the Jubilee Stand along the back straight of the athletics track, which provides offices and clinics for several sports-related organisations.
Powell said, “Users will also be anxiously awaiting final plans to accommodate the hugely popular and well-used healthcare and physiotherapy facility currently located in the Jubilee Stand. As the largest local employer, and one that supports NHS patients as well as private, this represents a huge asset to the centre as a whole.
“We have provided advice on necessary dimensions of an indoor track and the likely best mix of associated facilities, and the project team have taken note, but we will have to wait and see if our views are fully taken on board.”
Saturday’s consultation event is billed as a “Community Conference”, which offers bizarrely “a range of fun events for all the family”, with the project team making a presentation from 3pm and a discussion session from 4pm.
The event organisers say that this is a “final” public opportunity to offer feedback on the future of the centre. CPSP’s board has requested that an extended exhibition is made available for all users of the centre and local area, so they can have an opportunity to see and provide further feedback.
Due to the clash of the conference event and swimming championships, anyone wishing to attend is strongly advised to reserve a free place for the event – go to http://on-your-marks.co.uk/#events
Previous coverage of the future of Crystal Palace NSC:
- 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
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