Crystal Palace Sports Partnership highlights a report containing an overview of athletics demand in south London ahead of Crystal Palace National Sports Centre plans

A report commissioned by UK Athletics (UKA) has brought into question the proposals being drafted by the Greater London Authority (GLA) that could decimate athletics at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, the Crystal Palace Sports Partnership action group has said.

The GLA last month published a report which comprised the findings from the 2014 public consultation. The research findings had no option to retain any indoor training facility at the south London venue, but the action group says that new evidence from UKA suggests otherwise.

A document – the “UKA Assessing Needs and Opportunities Guide (ANOG) Needs Assessment Summary” – provides an overview of the existing and future athletics demand in south London, which is currently served by two indoor tracks, one of which is at Crystal Palace.

Crystal Palace Stadium, pictured above, was the spiritual home of British athletics for four decades. The 15,000-seater arena followed on from the White City Stadium as host of the AAA Championships from 1971 to 1987 and staged some of the biggest international meetings from the late-1960s onwards.

An outdoor track is set to remain on the site, but the indoor facilities and the stands are in grave danger of being demolished.

The Crystal Palace Sports Partnership quoted UKA chief executive Niels de Vos as saying: “Whilst the introduction of the Olympic Stadium at 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 support, the Crystal Palace Sports Partnership says it is concerned that it has taken eight months for these views to be made public. As a result, it says the views do not feature in the final GLA report which is influencing key decisions on the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre’s long-term future. Also said to be missing from the GLA report is a response from London Sport.

“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,” said Crystal Palace Sports Partnership chair, John Powell. “An indoor track is essential in minimising 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.”