Mayor commits to Crystal Palace pool renovations

Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. Pic: Neil Cummings

Crystal Palace pools will receive a “comprehensive renovation” ahead of their reopening, according to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

The investment follows a petition demanding repairs for the 50-metre and diving pools, as well as a committed reopening date. The petition, launched in August, has since received over 40,000 signatures.

The pools in Crystal Palace National Sports Centre have been closed since March 2020, due to a leak coming from a cracked underwater window.

A spokesperson for the Mayor said: “Sadiq completely appreciates the frustration of all those who love using the pools and has asked his team to urgently contract a firm to plan and carry out the necessary renovation works, with the goal of maximising the time the pools are available for use.”

“The National Sports Centre is a hugely important sporting and community facility for the capital and this decision will secure its future for decades to come.”

Included amongst previous athletes of the club are Eden Cheng and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix, who represented Team GB at the 2020 Olympics.

Following the draining of the pools, the two divers were forced to move their Olympic training to Stratford, before placing seventh in their events.

John Powell, chair of the Crystal Palace Sports Partnership and former sprinting coach, told Eastlondonlines: “The proposed investment is a very welcome move by the Mayor – this decision has been a long time coming and the delay has seen participation in sports at Crystal Palace in sharp decline.

“We can only hope now that work progresses quickly to reopen the pool, re-establish grass roots to elite participation as before, and a general revival of the most accessible multi-sports centre in the UK.”

News of the restoration comes after approval from the Mayor in March to spend £550,000 on essential maintenance work for the sports centre over the next two years.

Powell welcomes any developments to the stadium and outdoor areas of the centre, which have been in “managed decline for years”.

“The Crystal Palace Sports Partnership certainly look forward to working positively with City Hall to reinvigorate all sports at the Palace and restore it hopefully to former glories.”

The closure of the pools also affected the swimming clubs that use the centre, such as Leander Swimming Club in Wandsworth.

Having struggled to locate alternative local venues, the club has been unable to replicate its five weekly hours of training at Crystal Palace to a similar degree elsewhere.

A spokesperson for Leander Swimming Club told ELL: “Crystal Palace is the only 50-metre pool that is accessible if you’re in south-west London, Croydon, all of those areas.

“There’s a marked difference between training in an Olympic-size pool as opposed to a 25-metre pool. So we’re looking forward to the work being completed and done. We still don’t know when that’s going to be, but we can hold our breath and look forward to getting back to it.”

While no details of a timeline or budget have been published, the repair bill for the facility has previously been estimated to be £1.3 million.

The spokesperson for the Mayor stated that “further consultation on the development plans will be planned for the coming months”, with plans to allow local citizens and stakeholders to express their views on the renovation.

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