Dear Mr Beadle,
Re: Crystal Palace NSC Development Consultation
I write on behalf of the Bromley Labour Group, all of whom recognise that the GLA is subsidising the NSC in the region of £1m per annum and that this situation is not sustainable in the long term. The Group also welcomed the extension of the original consultation period as we had requested, albeit for a shorter period than we had proposed.
Having over the last few weeks received a number of representations on the subject of the NSC, we wish to submit the following points for consideration:
Whilst the GLA may be acting primarily as leaseholder for the NSC site, they and the Mayor have a wider strategic responsibility for the park and its environs. Making decisions about the future of the NSC site (“early 2015” is quoted) before the outcome of negotiations with ZRG is seemingly irresponsible given the potential of both schemes to fundamentally change one of London’s most historic and spectacular parks.
We do not see how the GLA can state that the NSC and ZRG proposals are “..separate plans which will progress independently” and at the same time claim that “We will ensure there is cohesive development of the whole park”.
These two schemes cannot, in our view, be seen in isolation of each other. In fact, the proposals for a new access road and the ‘out of the blue’ proposal that a primary school be located on the site gives substance to speculation that the Mayor is actually reacting to the wishes of ZRG rather those of local people.
We therefore call on the GLA to extend the period of consultation until either a land deal has been agreed between ZRG and Bromley Council (should this occur) or until after the expiry of the exclusivity deal between LBB and ZRG.
Given that CSM had originally approached the future of the NSC with ‘blue sky thinking’ and that a number of radical and creative ideas were being discussed before the May elections, we feel that the narrowing down of these more innovative proposals to demolishing the stadium and introducing a primary school to the site suggests that the GLA are engineering the consultation to fulfil their own undisclosed objectives.
The potential options for redeveloping the site are far wider than what has been put forward (eg. the inclusion of a sports academy). As no projected costings have been made available for the current proposals, it is not arguable that finance is the primary reason for this decision.
The online consultation (as well as the information available at the NSC sessions) we therefore consider inadequate.
Whilst we are aware of the facilities available as legacy of the Olympics, no evidence or justification has been given by the GLA for downgrading the overall status of the NSC. We believe, from representations from local and other sporting groups who use the NSC, that there is significant demand for at least a regional sports centre, something which has not been considered.
We would also wish to reiterate that Crystal Palace Park (and the NSC ) has a long and successful history as a centre for sport, from motor racing to athletics – we believe this should be built upon and not wasted or diluted.
Unlike Lea valley, Crystal Palace has exceptionally good transport links from both central and south London. The NSC site is therefore accessible to many local young people who simply do not have the time to travel to and from East London.
Should the ZRG proposals materialise, then no doubt additional transport infrastructure will be required – a consideration which supports our argument that these two developments cannot be seen in isolation of each other.
Similarly, no justification has been given for the proposal that the NSC development should be for sporting and not leisure purposes. We believe that this decision is based on inaccurate data, and is therefore unfounded and wrong. Whilst there is a swimming pool and leisure centre in Beckenham, the NSC site has the potential to offer a much wider range of activities (eg. triathalons) , and to earn an additional income from these. Put simply, the NSC has space which The Spa does not.
We therefore call on the GLA to rethink these proposals completely, to widen and deepen its research with both existing and potential users of a sports and leisure centre in the park and to seek the broader views of local residents about options for the NSC site.
Along with local Labour colleagues, we will be meeting further in the weeks ahead with the sporting organisations that use the NSC in order that we are fully briefed on the detailed views and wishes across the range of different sports. We hope you will appreciate that this takes time, and that therefore you will also be prepared to feed our subsequent findings back to the GLA in due course.
Finally, in the light of these proposals (and the potential ZRG development) which appear to fall outside of the Master Plan for the park, I would be grateful if you would clarify the status of this document now.
Cllr Angela Wilkins
Crystal Palace Ward
Leader of the Labour Group, Bromley Council