Boris kicks NSC plans into the long grass

Boris Johnson has finally shelved his plans to demolish some of Crystal Palace Park’s athletics facilities.

Back in October 2014, the Greater London Authority (which owns the National Sports Centre and its grounds) launched a consultation on proposals to demolish the athletics stadium, build a free school in its place, remove the raised walkway and the indoor running track it contains, remove some swimming facilities, and generally downgrade the importance of the sports facilities.

We weren’t opposed to everything they proposed. The NSC definitely needs some love, and we’re open to the idea of moving the indoor track if local people wanted to remove the raised concrete walkway. But, with lots of work from one of our London Assembly Members, Darren Johnson, we lobbied for a better consultation without a school dumped in the middle of the park.

We also want more recognition of the amazing sports activities that still happen in the park. Just read about this sprinters’ event from mid January, for example! Here’s a photo:


City Hall officials quickly realised their consultation was flawed and slowed the whole process down. We kept waiting for an announcement last summer, then last autumn, then this winter. Now, it has been postponed until after the Mayoral elections, giving the new Mayor a chance to take a different approach.

Internal board papers (agenda item 13) state that “the long term strategy for the NSC will be developed with the new Mayoral team following the forthcoming elections. In the interim, the current leisure management contract with GLL will be extended until 2018 and improvements made to reflect the results of the public consultation exercise.”

Sian Berry, our mayoral candidate, has pledged to help the local sports groups retain the facilities they need to keep Crystal Palace on the national sports map. She will also help them take a more central role in the plans and consultations.

In the meantime, Darren Johnson will be asking the Mayor how he plans to spend the remainder of the £326,000 budget for the current financial year, and what he will do about the car parking fiasco that has let grass verges be turned into mud baths while hard standing parking is closed off.