Palace's £20m Academy plans approved by Bromley Council
Written by Simon Austin — March 19, 2020
CRYSTAL PALACE’s plans to develop their Academy into a Category 1 site have been supported by Bromley Council’s planning committee.
At a meeting last night, councillors resolved to grant planning permission subject to completion of section 106 obligations (to fund transport and community improvement initiatives) and approval by the Greater London Authority.
The club, which has been Category 2 since the introduction of the EPPP system in 2012 and ranked 16th in our 2017/18 Academy Productivity Rankings, secured a long-term lease for a site on Copers Cope Road, Beckenham, in December 2018.
Palace hope to secure Category 1 status by the beginning of 2020/21, enabling them to be “competitive in attracting the very best young players”, in the words of chairman Steve Parish.
Developing the Bromley base would allow the club to provide playing, training and education facilities to more than 220 Academy players on a single site opposite the first-team training ground, rather than being spread across multiple facilities as they are at present.
The new facilities would include 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 built, with up to five classrooms, lecture rooms and meeting spaces. Eight tutors and a full-time psychologist will be 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 built.
The club currently employs 35 full-time and 100 part-time staff at the Academy and expects to recruit another 20 scouts to ensure it “continues to unearth the best young talent from south London and beyond”.
The site will also be available for community use through Palace For Life Foundation.
Parish said: “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.”
There were 599 responses from local residents to the consultation held by the club and council, with 549 in support and 50 objecting. The main objection was to the construction of a large indoor dome, which you can see in the image above.
Residents argued that Palace would be the only club in London to have a full-size indoor pitch, but the Eagles countered that it was a key part of gaining Category 1 status.
There are currently 24 Category 1 Academies, which you see below. Palace and Burnley both expect to go Cat 1 by the start of 2020/21.