Press release: UK Athletics calls for athletics to be retained at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre

A report commissioned by UK Athletics (UKA) brings into question the proposals being drafted by the Greater London Authority (GLA) that could decimate athletics at the iconic Crystal Palace National Sports Centre (CPNSC).

In May the GLA published the CPNSC Development Options Appraisal Final Report, which comprised the findings from the 2014 public consultation. Its research findings had no option to retain any indoor training facility at the prestigious South London venue, but new evidence from the athletics governing body, UKA, suggests otherwise.

The UKA Assessing Needs and Opportunities Guide (ANOG) Needs Assessment Summary (Crystal Palace) provides a comprehensive overview of athletics existing and future demand in South London, which is currently only served by two indoor tracks, one of which is at Crystal Palace.

This is one of many factors that is making athletics in South London a priority for UKA, and the retention of an indoor track a key part of their 2013 – 2017 strategy:

“A replacement facility at Crystal Palace would ensure excellent indoor provision across the whole of the South of London – a densely populated area in terms of England Athletics affiliated clubs and track & field members.” Sportshall, jump festivals, recreational and fitness activities are just some of the many clubs, sports and community groups that would also benefit from the year round facility, the report states.

Neils de Vos, Chief Executive of UKA says, “Whilst the introduction of the Olympic Stadium – Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, has removed the need for Crystal Palace as an international competitive venue, UK Athletics and England Athletics supports the retention of appropriate indoor and outdoor athletics facilities at Crystal Palace in order to service the considerable demand for athletics from registered clubs and members living in the South London area.”

Despite this strong support Crystal Palace Sports Partnership (CPSP) are concerned that it has taken eight months for these views to be made public, therefore they do not appear in the final GLA Report, which is influencing key decisions on the CPSNC’s long term future.

Also missing from being shown in the GLA report is the response from London Sport, the lead strategic body for community sport in the capital, who state, “The potential loss of indoor athletics training provision has been raised as the most significant concern to London Sport, due to a reported severe shortage of potential alternatives in South London. We would encourage a wider analysis of indoor athletics training provision in the area, and depending on its outcome, investigating the feasibility of incorporating it into a revised design, either as a designated facility or into a more multi-use area.”

John Powell MBE, Chair of CPSP states, “Questions need to be asked as to why these two important documents are missing from the final GLA report, when such important long term decisions are being made. An indoor track is essential in minimizing injury for all track athletes, who need to be able to access a sheltered facility the year round. Without an indoor track dozens if not hundreds of athletes will be rendered ‘homeless’. It will be devastating for the sport.”

“As the UKA report indicates, accessing alternative athletic training venues such as Sutton Arena and Lee Valley are virtually inaccessible to those commuting by public transport from this area. Meanwhile, an excellent transport hub serves Crystal Palace.”

“The UKA report proves beyond doubt that there is a robust business case that would support the retention of some form of indoor training area. The loss of indoor athletics facilities alone at the Palace will be a disaster, leaving athletes from club to elite level trying to train in freezing British winters, which is nothing short of a disgrace. Ironically this potential decimation of sporting facilities comes as the latest figures from Sport England’s Active People Survey shows athletics participation increased more than any other sport between April 2014 and March 2015. This is set against a huge decline in sport participation nationally, which has prompted the Sports Minister Tracey Crouch to announce she is to develop a new strategy for sport as a matter of urgency!”

Date of publication: 17 June 2015

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