The Crystal Palace National Sports Centre (CPNSC) represents an iconic part of London’s community sport infrastructure, across the whole spectrum of physical activity and sport from grassroots to performance level sport. Additionally, CPNSC is a crucial venue for significant participation events, such as London Youth Games and Panathlon. In realising our vision of making London the most physically active city in the world, the protection of facilities that enable local communities to build physical activity habits is a crucial component. As such, we welcome the Mayor of London’s stated desire to ensure that the centre has a long-term future.
Physical activity and sport delivery does not exist in a policy vacuum, and we recognise that the current funding and subsidy model that allows the continued operation of CPNSC may be unsustainable in perpetuity. We also note that, as the Draft London Plan acknowledges, ‘current provision of swimming pools, artificial grass pitches (AGPs), and sports halls is not meeting demand’ and, further, that for ‘all types of facilities, the level of unmet demand is projected to increase by 2041 if no new facilities are provided’. It is within these policy contexts that London Sport believes that any review of and plans assessing the future operation of CPNSC should be considered against the wider supply and demand of leisure facilities for Londoners which, in a national context, are already in short supply; leisure facility provision being half the rate, per head, of the rest of the country. Therefore, we cannot afford to lose a significant facility which delivers to the local and regional community.
We are encouraged that the Greater London Authority is holding focus group meetings for regular users of CPNSC, such as clubs, groups and those representing relevant sports, and would strongly encourage any potentially impacted groups to register and provide representation to these meetings:
- 12 February, 7pm – 9pm | Aquatics
- 12 February, 7pm – 9pm | Outdoor sports
- 13 February, 7pm – 9pm | Indoor sports
The GLA will also be holding drop in sessions in the CPNSC sports centre, which don’t require pre-registration:
- 13 February, 10am – 8pm
Finding the right, long-term solution for CPNSC is a complex and emotive subject and, rightly, should involve input from the communities and groups that benefit most from its unique place within the region, and London as a whole.
We would hope and expect to see a comprehensive consultation process taking place with all existing (and, potentially, future) user groups to ensure any changes minimise effects on their use of the facility. Success in this requires CPNSC to become financially sustainable in order that it continues to provide capacity that supports an active London population. Further, London Sport commits to supporting any future decisions regarding the site adopting an evidence-based approach. We would encourage all parties, and prospective future partners, to consider the best means by which this need can be met – and to ensure that CPNSC continues to play a role in London’s sporting infrastructure in the years to come.