‘The Eagles’ set to fly high with Bromley Council nod


Crystal Palace FC Academy Image: Crystal Palace FC

Plans to develop the Crystal Palace Academy in UK – a football club academy which develops talented young footballers in the age bracket of 8 to 18 yrs – into a Category 1 site have been backed by Bromley Council’s planning committee thus auguring a new era for the club.

Crystal Palace can now go ahead with their £20million academy redevelopment.

Bromley Council’s decision – which went through by 12 votes to one – means ‘The Eagles’ can take a big step towards earning Category One academy status and rival the other London clubs for the capital’s best young players.

“Securing Category 1 status for our Academy is imperative for us to be competitive in attracting the very best young players, and there is an abundance of raw footballing talent in south London,” said club Chairman Steve Parish at the time.

“We have shown in recent years to have a clear pathway for our most gifted and committed players into our first-team – a tradition we are committed to continuing.”

The new plans include a redevelopment of the onsite buildings as well as the construction of a new covered full-size 3G synthetic pitch, for all-weather use – which met with stiff opposition during the planning process.

There will also be a full size DESSO pitch – a hybrid surface used across the Premier League – along with a floodlight 3G pitch and six further pitches.

Developing the Bromley base will facilitate Crystal Palace Football Club (CPFC) to provide first-class playing, training and education facilities to more than 220 young players on a single site opposite the First-Team Training Ground, inspiring a new generation of local talent.

Crystal Palace Football Club is a professional football club based in Selhurst, South London, England. They currently compete in the Premier League, the highest level of English football. The club play their home matches at Selhurst Park.

The Premier League club’s application got 549 letters of support and, at a meeting held recently, Bromley councilors decided to grant planning permission, subject to completion of the 106 agreement and GLA referral, with work due to begin shortly.

The club secured a long-term lease for the site on Copers Cope Road at Beckenham in UK, in December 2018 and hopes to get bestowed with a Category 1 Academy status by the beginning of the 2020-21 seasons. The plans ensure the site will be kept safe and secure, whilst ensuring that a vast amount of space remains green.

Rather than being scattered across multiple facilities, all Academy players will be able to train at the site. The new facilities will enjoy a full-size covered pitch, a full-size 3G pitch, a full-size ‘show’ pitch with seating for up to 500 spectators; and six grass training pitches.

New educational facilities will be erected, with up to five classrooms, lecture rooms and meeting spaces. Eight tutors and a full-time psychologist will be available on site to ensure that young players receive the best education and welfare provision. A new medical treatment, rehabilitation and sports science facility will also be a high point of the site.

Thirty-five full-time and 100 part-time staffs is on the rolls of the Academy and it is expected that another 20 scouts will be recruited to make certain that the Academy can scout for the pick of young talent from south London and beyond. In the last 15 years, 35 players have come through the Academy ranks, making more than 1,000 appearances for ‘The Eagles’.

Palace For Life Foundation will make the site available for community use thus bringing extra community benefits. Palace For Life manages football schools, disability teams and community engagement initiatives, using the power of sport and the Palace brand to change the lives of young people in south London.

Exulted Parish, “I am delighted that the Bromley Council planning committee has supported our very exciting plans to develop the Academy site. It’s a fantastic scheme and it will create an elite facility and have a transformational impact both in terms of footballing education and personal development for the 200-plus boys that are in our care at any one time. I would like to thank all the staff and partners that have worked so hard with us to achieve this outcome. We intend to commence work as soon as practically possible.”

Parish added, “It’s something we’ve been working on for a long time, so we are absolutely ecstatic that Bromley have given us the go-ahead.”

Bromley council said while the building of the indoor pitch was classed as an “inappropriate development on the Metropolitan Open land on Copers Cope Road, there are very special circumstances to outweigh the harm which would be caused”.

“This includes the benefit to Crystal Palace Football Club and the community use,” the Council further said in a statement.

Councilor Alexa Michael, Development Control Committee Chairman, said, “This site has been used for sport for more than 100 years and securing the long-term future of the site and keeping its sporting use is very welcome news.

It will also mean Crystal Palace Football Club will continue to be intrinsically rooted in our borough, sharing its roots with Crystal Palace, which is also in our borough.”

“In addition to the commitment that the facilities will be used by the community, this will be a place where young people will receive football related coaching and a variety of life skills,” Michael added.

There were some concerns from residents concerning the indoor pitch, which will be up to 19 meters high. However, the majority of comments submitted online to the council were in favor of the project.

With the club continuing to look for the next Wilfried Zahas, Nathaniel Clynes and Brandon Pierricks of south London – aided by the addition of 20 scouts for the new Academy site – Parish further said, “This is an Academy we can all be proud of, right in the heartland of our catchment area.”

Wilfried Zahas is a professional footballer who plays as a forward for Premier League club Crystal Palace. Nathaniel Clynes is an English professional footballer, who plays as a right back for Premier League club Liverpool. Brandon Pierrick also plays for Crystal Palace.

KSS Director and Lead Designer, Nick Marshall, observed, “KSS are delighted to have supported Crystal Palace FC in another successful planning application. The approval of the new Academy will support the growth of the Academy boys through the provision of new playing, educational and recreational facilities. We look forward to starting work on the delivery of the project this year.”

KSS – a leading architecture and design practice – specializes in major sports venues and training facilities, educational projects and residential developments.

KSS is the member of Coliseum, Global Sports Venue Alliance and one of the sponsors for the Coliseum Summit Europe to be held at Ascot Racecourse, UK, on September 2-3, 2020.

Construction is expected to begin later this year, depending on the coronavirus situation, as Parish highlighted, “The primary concern is for everybody to be safe, and to follow the guidance. If that stops us from getting on with the building work, it does – but there are more important priorities at the moment. That accepted, we’ll crack on as soon as we can.”

Palace hope to have the redevelopment completed for the start of next season, though the chaos caused by the coronavirus means nothing can be asserted as of now.

Selhurst Park redevelopment

The club is also working with the award-winning architecture and design firm, KSS, on the 13,500-capacity Main Stand development at Selhurst Park, which will increase the ground capacity from 26,000 to 34,000, and hopefully further boost the electrifying atmosphere in this most traditional of English football venues.

Selhurst Park is an association football stadium located in the London suburb of Selhurst in the Borough of Croydon. It is the home ground of Crystal Palace Football Club playing in the Premier League.

The proposals include lengthening the pitch to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) standard, extensive new facilities for general admission, premium hospitality and disabled supporters to the latest modern standards, together with a new club retail store and museum.

The dramatic external design draws on the iconography embedded in ‘The Eagles’ club crest. A five-storey glazed central facade with barrel-vaulted arch and horizontal glazing articulation echoes the south transept section of the historic 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition Hall (after which the club was named), and is flanked by sculpted metal clad wings concealing vertical circulation and servicing elements.

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