Chairman Steve Parish met with local residents in Beckenham last week to share the club’s plans to upgrade their existing Academy site to meet Category 1 status.
A planning application is due to be submitted to Bromley Council later this month, but Parish attended a public consultation for local residents to hear about the plans and ask questions first hand.
The Chairman said the consultation was “essential”, adding, “We want the plans we’ve made to work for everybody. It seemed to go down well, and we had some great questions.”
The plans include major expansion and enhancement of the football facilities – including a full-size covered pitch, but great importance has been placed on improving education and welfare facilities for the club’s 220 young players.
Palace are planning to create up to five classrooms on site, as well as lecture rooms and meeting spaces, with up to eight tutors to be employed to ensure players receive the very best education on site.
There are also plans to expand the wider player-care provision, providing enhanced physical and mental health support – including the employment of a full-time psychologist. A new medical treatment, rehabilitation, and sports science facility are also included in the plans.
Parish described the plans as a “really exciting milestone” for the club, with the ambition to become the only elite level Academy in the whole of south London.
There are several criteria that need to be met in order to achieve Category 1 status, with Parish saying, “They’re all facilities that improve the standard of care for the boys - educationally, from a sports science point of view, and mental health point of view too. Also things that help tremendously in developing the talent of the players as footballers - so a 3G (artificial) pitch, and indoor pitch.
“The main thing for us to really improve is the care, and helping the boys grow and develop as people, which will help them improve as footballers and give them a greater chance to succeed.
“The facilities that we’ll be able to build around this with schooling with mentoring, with the sports science and medical will really make a huge difference to the players development and of course help with recruitment too - because if we’ve got the very best of everything then there’s no reason for a local kid to go to any other academy.”
The vast upgrade in facilities will also benefit the first-team, with the location being just a few hundred metres from their training base on Copers Cope Road. Primarily this will be around usage of the new ‘show’ pitch in the event of freezing conditions, as this new pitch will have undersoil heating.
Bromley residents will have the opportunity to comment on the club’s plans when the council publish the club’s planning documents in the coming weeks.
Watch the below video to hear from the Chairman at the resident's consultation.