“NO BLUE SKIES THINKING – JUST A MANAGED DECLINE OF THE SPORTS CENTRE” – Park’s community stakeholders (GLA sports centre plans slammed – part two)
NEW PROPOSALS for the National Sports Centre have been branded as “offering little more than a managed decline of the NSC and its associated athletics facilities.”
The accusation comes from the Crystal Palace Park Community Stakeholder Group. In a stinging statement the CSG Martin Tempia says: “Crystal Palace park is not a land bank or a ‘contingency’, offering a quick solution to problems such as parking or a shortage of school places.
Over the years, the separate management arrangements of the National Sports Centre (NSC) have resulted in it developing a ‘semi-detached’ relationship with the rest of Crystal Palace park.
“But its position and prominence within the Park means that any proposal for its future use and regeneration has direct consequences for the Park.
“We understand that the GLA appointed project consultants, CSM Limited, were told to ‘think the unthinkable’ when coming forward with options for the future of the NSC.
“Far from the ‘blue skies’ thinking we had been led to expect, the four project options strike us as at best pedestrian, offering little more than a managed decline of the NSC and, especially, its associated athletics facilities.
“They compare poorly to some of the community-derived proposals that have been suggested over recent months and with the ambition of the Masterplan as set out in the Crystal Palace park Masterplan design and access statement:
“CSM said in their press release that the NSC’s future ‘needs to be linked to the long term Masterplan for the wider Crystal Palace site and take account of the ZhongRong Group’s (ZRG) aspirations to rebuild the original Crystal Palace.’
“Despite being no nearer to knowing what the ZRG’s ‘aspirations’ are, or whether they are appropriate to one of London’s most iconic public parks, we are concerned that they appear to be exerting an influence over other areas of the Park, not associated with the one they have expressed an interest in developing.
“The lack of detail in the CSM proposals makes an assessment of their likely consequences difficult. “For instance, there is no information on the commercial or economic case for the proposals, or the effect they might have on future income streams.
“You will be aware that the CSG is concerned that the economic sustainability of the Park must be given due consideration in any proposal affecting its future.
“Crystal Palace Park has a long tradition of hosting a wide variety of sporting activities – including football, cricket, motor racing, swimming and athletics – at a national level.
“It is also highly used as a space for a range of recreational physical activity, from families playing ball games to groups of walkers to people training for marathons.
“The Masterplan builds on this by widening the access to sporting opportunities, increasing the availability of both formal and informal involvement in physical exercise, and integrating the sporting elements with the surrounding parkland.
“This blending of sport locations and Park aims to encourage more local people to use the sports facilities, and to encourage sports users to make better use of the Park.
“The proposed new access roads and paths would create barriers in the parts of the park that are now key for long distance running, cycling and walking.
“The roads have not been flagged up for consideration in the consultation, despite potentially having a major effect on core park usage.
“Organisers of tri-athletic events have said they will not be able to run events in Crystal Palace if the proposed access road from Crystal Palace Park Road is built.
“Crystal Palace park is a much loved, historic, Grade II* listed park, designated as Metropolitan Open Land , heavily used for recreation, sport and heritage appreciation; any proposal relating to the Park needs to acknowledge this and build on, rather than decrease, Crystal Palace park’s strengths in these areas.”