Crystal Palace Sport Centre ‘Consultation’


Two consultation days were held on the 16th & 18th October. I attended the Saturday session. As the picture shows the consultation was a few boards hidden in a corner of the Sports Centre with only one small sign outside indicating there was a session at all. It was so inconspicuous it had to be pointed out to me. The boards had tiny renditions of the plan and lacked any detail. They showed no footprint of the proposed school. They showed no access (do pupils arrive by helicopter?). The handouts had printing so small as to be unintelligible.

The LDA representatives had no more information. When questioned about the footprint they pointed to a block. This was the typical building dimensions of a school direct from the DfE. It was not a plan of any building that could be constructed in such a sensitive location. It did not include any areas for play, parking or any other related facilities a school may need. When asked about access they pointed to the excellent public transport interchange up on Crystal Palace Parade. They were unaware that this will be removed as part of the proposed ZRG plan for the Palace site. They were unable to answer any questions about vehicular access for staff and pupils.

The LDA thought that local organisations, sports clubs and residents had been made aware of the consultation. They were surprised that so many of us, despite being on various LDA email lists and organisations related to the park, had only discovered the consultation by accident and had not been notified.

They emphasised this was only an outline proposal and that the proposed opening of the free school in September 2015 would be in temporary premises and not in the Park. However there was a timetable required by the DfE for a permanent building. It would appear that this has to be in place before the school can open. Given that parents would have to commit in only two to three months time to which school they would send their kids then a decision woud appear to be needed very, very urgently. The LDA were unable to name any other locations they had looked into for the school.

Overall it was, by far, the most inadequate, superficial and poorly presented consultation ever put on in the park. We should know – so many better ones have produced nothing so far. One can hope this ill prepared one does no better. In reality one cannot comment fairly on such vague information.

A local architect writes ….

The intention to improve the National Sports Centre and Crystal Palace Park is commendable, but the Greater London Authority’s current proposals squander money, give little in return and loose existing facilities.

The comments that follow are based on the fact that my family and I have lived in Sydenham for over 25 years and used or visited virtually the entire centre. I have listened to amateur and professionals who have use the site. Also my professional knowledge and experience allows me to raise pertinent points.

The major proposal to remove the bridge link would be a disaster. It forms part of the” Paxton Axis” and safely links two sections of the park. Removing it would bring heart stopping moments for relatives and carers as children could run unimpeded into the busy road serving the new proposed car parking area. This new car parking area replaces a popular and regularly used and unique miniature car racing track. It should not be lost.

The proposals contain a fatal flaw. The existing bridge is some 4 metres above ground level. It will need a ramp. That ramp will have to rise at a 1:20 gradient for ease of use by wheelchairs and people. It will be at least 80 metres long excluding convenient 2 metre wide landing areas. This new axis will scythe through the existing mature trees, grassed areas and car parking.

Visitors to the new cafe will have to strain their eyes for over 50 years to see mature trees that screen the ‘new’ encroaching modern school and college buildings amid the ruined groundworks of the old stadium. To buy semi mature trees and transport them as was the case when the Crystal Palace was built is unlikely now.

As well as segregating people and traffic, the bridge serves as a public viewing platform, overlooking the vintage (and other cars and bikes) race track, a miniature car race track, a multipurpose football pitch and the Stadium beyond. Spectators today can become users tomorrow o it is a good advert.

Ingeniously the bridge contains an indoor training track, (useful in this country’s bad weather), that was also used for archery. It should be renovated. Much has/was said that such tracks for elite athletes is provided at Stratford. What happened for sport for all? The solution should not be Elitest.The much used bridge could be imaginatively improved by altering the steps at the eastern end, (serving paths to the park’s cafe, play area, lake and dinosaurs), by a new sweeping ramp and a new tree walk. The cost of this would be less than the sum to replace the demolition and rebuild works.

The two winged Queen’s Jubilee Stand was built in 1977. It is a Grade 11* Listed Building. It should be kept to serve south London and complement and share events with the 2012 Olympic Stadium. The athletics track was opened in 1964 and has a capacity of 15 500. London needs more than one big sporting venue to align itself and its population to other countries.Under the neglected wings of the stadium are a host of services and functions that need to be retained. These include the Capel Manor College, a children’s gym, practice space and office and medical support areas. Placing a new school within the park raises conflicting access and security problems. There are better locations in the Crystal Park and Sydenham areas that need to be explored. For example – 10 Willow Way SE26 – near the primary Adamsrill School. The Capel Manor College should remain connected to the farm as it specialises in matters relating to parks…biology…farming…

Instead of wasting money tearing down existing facilities, instead of building afresh or continuing neglect of maintenance, these multitude of run down spaces should be replenished so that athletes, parents, children, and visitors enjoy the area and do not just put up with poor standards. Cramping more and more into the Sports Centre limited space is a false economy.

The 1950’s Grade 11* listed building contains an Olympic swimming pool and is used by Olympic and international athletes and coaches. The proposed mechanically raised platform will negatively impinge on the depth needed for diving. There is a perfectly acceptable arrangement of pools at the moment that needs no change. The money would be better spent on upgrading what is there. This includes the climbing wall in the adjacent building between the learner pool and the bridge. By thinking laterally one could possibly to convert part of the lake to a learner pool by using a plastic tray and roof, but….

The cafe by the current first floor entry level is to serve visitors. To alter everything around it is grossly wasteful. The Volleyball area can stay where it is and not move to the pool and climbing area which then have to move and consequently affect the main pool, the diving pool and several other areas. The cafe is subservient to the sports facilities and not vice versa. A larger cafe already exists a short walk away. There are also numerous restaurants in the adjacent streets.

To summarise: the whole project and presentation was badly thought out. Lack of notifying the public and local organisations by a leaflet drop. Many people do not use the internet, and some previously registered were not contacted. The staffs on hand were pleasant and helpful but the brief and costs had not been professionally analysed or listed in this presentation to show the all the existing uses and include them as an option. A 15 year future life was stated whereas the buildings had lasted well over 40 years by being well planned and well detailed in advance by a good professional team. The four options shown were to such a small scale that they were almost impossible, even for professionals, to read. The exercise appears very rushed. A proposed school is already advertising for pupils despite no decision being taken as yet, or has it…


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