Crystal Palace’s swimming and diving pools are set to get a multi-million facelift and repair package to enable them to re-open, after the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, agreed to get the works done, a decision which City Hall today described as securing the National Sports Centre’s “future for decades to come”.
Crystal Palace NSC was built in the 1960s and for decades was the home of British athletics and offered one of the nation’s few Olympic-sized 50-metre swimming pools.
The diving pool, with its associated gym, weight-training and trampoline facilities within the Grade II-listed sports hall building has remained a centre of international excellence into the 21st century, with Olympic gold medallist Tom Daley among those who have trained there or benefited from its diving school.
Daley was just one of at least five British medallists at this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games who at some point in their formative sporting careers had trained or competed in the Palace’s pools. Others include modern pentathlon champion Joe Choong and triathlon gold medal-winner Alex Yee.
But the pools have been closed since the start of covid lockdown in March 2020. With the pools emptied of water, serious cracks in their structure were discovered, preventing them from being re-filled and returned into use.
More than 42,000 signed a petition calling for the urgent repair and reopening of the pools.
The public outcry over the loss of such an important facility has finally got a response, with Sadiq Khan now agreeing to support the repair works.
A spokesperson for the Mayor told Inside Croydon today, “Sadiq completely appreciates the frustration of all those who love using the pools and has asked his team to urgently contract a firm to plan and carry out the necessary renovation works, with the goal of maximising the time the pools are available for use.
“The National Sports Centre is a hugely important sporting and community facility for the capital and this decision will secure its future for decades to come.”
Ellie Reeves, the Labour MP for Lewisham West and Penge, greeted the news with enthusiasm. She tweeted on Friday, “After a tireless campaign driven by our wonderful local community, Sadiq Khan has committed to funding the renovations for the 50metre pool and diving pool at Crystal Palace.
“We now must ensure that this is delivered on as soon as possible and get our pools reopened.”
The Crystal Palace Sports Partnership, the campaign group which ran the petition and has been working for more than a decade to secure repair and maintenance work across the NSC site, called the announcement “fantastic news”, and said that they “look forward to working with the Mayor of London team to support stakeholder engagement with the next phase of planning to save CPNSC pools and athletics grounds”. The latter part of which, regarding the badly neglected stadium and indoor training hall, may prove to be easier said than done.
No confirmed timetable or funding figures have been provided, as yet, although in 2018, when the NSC was last subjected to a survey for major works, the budget needed for repairs and renovation was estimated at £50million.
According to the Mayor’s spokesperson, further consultation on the development plans will take place in “the coming months”, to ensure, they say, “the local community, centre users and key stakeholders can fully input their views”.
They added, “This will ensure the vision for the centre captures local aspirations.”
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