The Mayor of London has launched a public consultation on plans to redevelop Crystal Palace National Sport Centre, with the current stadium under threat of demolition.
Boris Johnson described the redevelopment as “exciting” and a “benefit for the local community” but not all locals agree with the Mayor.
The plans received negative response from the blog Inside Croydon. In the article posted this week, international athlete John Bicourt described the plans as a “disgrace”.
The Greater London Authority’s plans for the sports centre were revealed last week and local people are now being asked for their views on how it could be transformed, with four different alternatives for the future of the site.
All the proposals include the demolition of the current Crystal Palace stadium, while the Olympic-sized swimming pool will be preserved.
There will be a new reception located on the ground floor next to a café, a soft play facility and a climbing wall.
Fitness would be moved to the current reception, providing views on the park, while it is possible that the indoor athletics track would be completely removed.
The Mayor of London is also evaluating the possibility of putting a new free primary school on the site, along with a new building that would contain Capel Manor College.
The training facility, opened in 1964 and taken on by the Mayor in 2012, will be part of a wider development of Crystal Palace Park but professional athletes have expressed their opposition to the plans arguing that the project will not benefit young runners.
They claim that support to talent will be lacking and that the importance of the stadium and training facility has been overlooked.
Despite negative views from the professionals, the community reacted positively.
A regular user of the swimming pool and tennis court said: ”I think the plans are good. This place hasn’t been looked after very well so I’m happy they are doing something positive with it. I hope they will keep the outside tracks.”
A runner who uses the facility about three times a week said: “I run a lot outside on the track but I never use the inside one. I think it makes sense to remove it.”
A teacher from Crystal Palace said: “The plans look great. I think it will benefit the community and attract more people”.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said of the redevelopment plans: “The regeneration of this historic site will ensure its lasting legacy as a visitor attraction and centre of sporting and educational excellence, creating much needed regeneration in the heart of south London.”
Councillor Stephen Carr, leader of Bromley Council, said: “The National Sports Centre is strategically important in many ways and plans which secure its future are to be welcomed. This consultation is also welcome so that local people can express their views and I would encourage them to do so.”
Crystal Palace Stadium was home to a number of British professional athletes. Britain’s biggest athletic meetings were held there between 1970 and 2011 and AAA Championships were hosted from 1971 to 1987.
With the opening of the London Olympic Stadium in 2012, Crystal Palace stadium has been underused and the future of athletics events is in doubt.
The public can contribute via a questionnaire available online and directly at the sport centre until 31 October.
A public exhibition about the plans is open from October 13-27 at the main reception.
Consultation sessions will also run on October 16 and 18 where users and locals will be able to meet City Hall staff and advisory team to discuss the plans.
The GLA will make a decision in 2015 and if successful work would start in 2016.