Memorandum submitted by Bromley Council
I understand that the House of Commons Select
Committee on Culture, Media and Sport is about to revisit the
issue of the National Athletics Stadium.
As the owners of the National Sports Centre
at Crystal Palace, I am writing to set out Bromley's views and
experience in the hope that your Committee could give some consideration
to the issues set out below.
As you know, Crystal Palace is currently the
major spectator and athletics training venue in the country. We
believe that wherever the 2005 games take place, any decision
on a new permanent stadium for athletics in London ought to be
evaluated in best value terms against a modernised and upgraded
On 17 March this year we were informed by Sport
England that together with United Kingdom Athletics, the British
Olympic Association, the DCMS and the Government Office for London,
they had been considering five site options for the development
of a National Athletics Stadium.
As the landlord of the National Sports Centre,
in 1996 the then Minister of Sport requested that we work with
Sport England to develop a modernisation scheme for Crystal Palace
as a regional training and event venue for a range of sports including
athletics. Because Sport England was prevented from giving themselves
Lottery funding, we agreed to take the lead in developing the
scheme. We did however work very closely with them and kept ministers
informed of progress.
By early 2000 we had reached the stage where
we had support from all stakeholders at national, regional and
local level. We were simply waiting for confirmation of the remaining
partnership funding from the Sports Lottery Fund before implementing
For information I have attached a briefing document
which sets out in chronological order the background to the modernisation
scheme between 1996 and 2000.
The decision to remove athletics from Wembley
in December 1999 had a major knock on effect on the scheme for
Crystal Palace. It included being informed that Crystal Palace
should consider becoming the venue for the 2005 Championships
because the site chosen would also become the legacy stadium for
athletics in the country and the elite training venue for London
and the South East.
Sport England's letter of 17 March informed
us that initially a shortlist of two or three sites would be chosen
which would then be considered in detail over the coming months
before the winner was chosen. They said that the shortlist of
sites would be made on 24 March and that we had to prepare our
case and attend for interview on our proposal on 22 March.
Five days to produce a response was incredibly
short. Nevertheless, we were prepared to give it a shot because
we had access to solid information. We have been working on the
Crystal Palace scheme since 1996 and our design team and cost
consultants were also involved in the Manchester Commonwealth
Games scheme. Consequently, we felt we were able to provide a
robust view on what was feasible and how much it would cost. Our
conclusion was that our proposal would deliver a scheme well in
advance of 2004 and would represent very good value for money
for the games and as a legacy stadium.
Our response was honest and realistic. We did
not see Crystal Palace as an Olympic venue; neither did we think
it was feasible to achieve a stadium with a retractable roof within
the £60 million budget set out in the brief. We had other
concerns because United Kingdom Athletics had not set out how
they would like to see the venue used or managed to justify being
a totally enclosed Olympic Stadium.
We did however indicate that the modernised
Crystal Palace could be upgraded from 16,500 to 20,000 spectators
as a permanent athletics venue and that for the games we could
use temporary seating and a warm up track from Manchester to increase
capacity to over 40,000.
Attached to this letter is a copy of our submission
to the short-listing panel.
We met the panel on 22 March. We were surprised that the meeting
lasted a little over an hour and were concerned that the main
client for the stadium David Moorcroft arrived half way through
A main focus of the discussion centred on how
people would travel to the stadium. While our submission had included
significant detail on public transport it was apparent that United
Kingdom Athletics showed more interest in car borne rather than
train or bus borne traffic. Moreover, there was no transport expertise
on the panel.
When the announcement was made that Picketts
Lock had been chosen as the winner rather than a shortlist formed,
we did not seek to challenge the decision. Just as we had undertaken
significant feasibility work naturally we assumed that feasibility
studies at other sites had demonstrated that they could achieve
the extensive brief and deliver better value than Crystal Palace.
It has come as a great surprise to us to learn:
The estimated cost of the Picketts
That a feasibility study is not yet
That the retractable roof proposal
appears to have been dropped.
The lack of existing provision for
public transport in the Picketts Lock proposal.
The expectation that they can achieve
a scheme by early 2005.
The risk that they will not have
a scheme completed by summer 2004 for pre event testing.
We believe that in the light of the emerging
evidence of a changing brief and significantly changed cost parameters,
an independent review be undertaken of the decision to choose
Bromley is convinced such a review is likely
to demonstrate that either Wembley or Crystal Palace is a better
value option for the 2005 games and that a modernised Crystal
Palace should remain as the permanent events stadium and athletics
In conclusion, we would be pleased to supply
additional information or to discuss our views and experience
to the Committee. Please don't hesitate to contact us directly.
5 Not printed. Back
Not printed. Back