A call for the national sports centre in Crystal Palace park to be a regional centre for training, coaching, events and outreach has been made at a consultation meeting held in the park’s lodge.

The meeting – which focussed on athletics users of the centre – also called for:
Retaining the indoor track – (or re-providing it as part of a dedicated multi-sport facility)
The return of a club house to provide a sense of community
A track that is easy to access with integrated trackside facilities such as physiotherapy and weights room; and
Spectator seating for regional events

“The core of the evening was to distil realistic and affordable options for the NSC’s future, to create a ‘vision’ for the centre, and identify its USP (unique selling point)” said a spokeswoman for Crystal Palace Sports Partnership.

“Topics covered throughout the evening included discussing current usage, assessing what athletic facilities are needed now and in the future, and ideas to build and sustain athletics usage.”

The meeting was led by former chief executive officer of UK Athletics and former Olympic gold medal winner Dave Moorcroft.

“Dave acknowledged there had been many false starts in redeveloping the NSC, whilst the GLA  (Greater London Authority) no longer had an appetite to host major international events such as Diamond League meetings.

“He explained: ‘Probably one of the most positive elements of it is that the GLA now own the site and have a commitment that doing nothing isn’t an option.

‘So clearly the GLA have to have a plan for the whole site, and that includes the sports facilities on site, and the non-sporting ones, and I think we’re quite lucky as an athletics community in getting in quite early to talk about what we’d like to do’.

“Dave had previously said that ‘Part of the solution is to look in five to ten years’ time to what we collectively leave behind for the likes of your children to inherit in the future’,” the spokeswoman added.

Dave Moorcroft told the meeting: “You’ve got something really special here. “There’s an opportunity to do it differently.

“You can proudly say we’re part of the athletics community at Crystal Palace. “It isn’t what it used to be, but what it is now is something that is really dynamic, really different, brings in different event groups, runners, and has a different sense of belonging.”

John Powell, chairman of Crystal Palace Sports Partnership (CPSP) and resident sprints coach at the NSC for over 40 years, told the conference:  “The key to the future, moving forward and being successful, is a good integrated multi-sport solution, based on an athletics facility that would appeal to many sports and not just track and field.

“We can’t have a stand-alone facility; it’s not a viable business solution. “This also has to work alongside an improved management model and a robust marketing strategy for the whole centre, which has been completely absent for many years now.

“As part of the approved Crystal Palace park Masterplan, the NSC already has outline planning permission for an integrated new regional sports centre with a re-provided indoor track.”

Patrick Dubeck, GLA Project lead, said: “This is the start of the process. “It is the beginning of having conversations with people about what a vision looks like, what the future looks like…

“The problem is, we don’t know what funders, the Mayor even, are willing to invest, until we have a compelling vision to put forward for a future multi-sport centre might be.”

He also reminded attendees that any plans have to compliment the regeneration of Crystal Palace park, within which the NSC sits, currently being undertaken by Bromley council.

Dave Moorcroft’s suggestion for a traditional anchor club acting as the catalyst to growth was widely rejected by those present.

Over 50 people from across the South East representing athletic clubs, coaches, athletic National Governing Bodies, athletes, key stakeholders, parents and past Olympians fed into the lively discussions.

Remaining engagements (pre-registration required: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/regeneration/regeneration-project-crystal-palace-national-sports-centre?source=vanityurl)

Monday 12th February (7pm – 9pm) Aquatics and Outdoor Sports; Tuesday 13th February (7pm – 9pm) Indoor Sports; NSC drop in session: Tuesday 13th February (10am – 8pm) (Source:
Crystal Palace Sports Partnership – CPSP)


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