Some parts of Crystal Palace Park remain in an “exclusion zone” three days after the park was subject to an emergency shutdown because concrete pillars that support the floodlights around the athletics stadium at the National Sports Centre were deemed unsafe.
Greenwich Leisure, the operators of the sports centre, announced the emergency closure at 6pm on Friday.
The whole of the sports centre – including the sports hall and gyms – remains closed to the public, while parts of the park re-opened yesterday, though with designated “exclusion zones”.
Bromley Council issued a statement yesterday which said that “Exclusion zones [are] in place at Crystal Palace Park, with park visitors asked not to enter these zones for safety reasons.
“Following notification from the Greater London Authority (GLA), that pillars supporting the floodlights are not safe at the National Sports Centre which the GLA are responsible for, there are exclusion zones currenly taped off in the park while we assess the situation and stop access around the floodlights.
“Please do not enter these exclusion zones. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”
This saw the cancellation of yesterday’s Lightopia, a winter lights show in the park, which had only opened last Thursday. A walk-through tour of illuminations in the park, making spectacular use of the Italianate terraces of the original Crystal Palace, part of the route of Lightopia passes close to the sports centre and its old floodlights.
The Crystal Palace Park Trust put out a statement on social media yesterday saying, “The exclusion Zone still impacts some of the Lightopia route… Ticket-holders will be contacted directly.”
The park is currently undergoing a transition, from the control of Bromley council to the charitable Trust, while the National Sports Centre remains under the control of the Greater London Authority.
“The GLA has had to take the decision to temporarily close all of the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre and some sections of Crystal Palace Park after discovering that the pillars supporting the floodlights at the stadium are not safe,” a spokesperson said yesterday.
“The GLA apologises for this disruption and is urgently working with the centre operator and Bromley Council to agree the next steps.”
As Inside Croydon reported on Saturday when breaking the news of the emergency closure, the 1960s-built stadium and the neighbouring sports hall and pools have suffered from under-investment and inadequate maintenance in the past three decades. Although designated as an “Olympic legacy” venue to complement the new facilities built in east London for the 2012 Games, those promises have come to nothing.
The Crystal Palace 50-metre swimming pool and diving pool have been dry for more than two years, waiting for funding to pay for some major repairs to the facility.
The closure of the stadium will be a body blow for the coaches, sports clubs and centre users drawn from across south-east England, for whom the Palace has been a vital training base.
The latest shutdown of the facilities will again raise fears that the stadium site could be demolished will be raised once more.
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