Anger over idling cars at football club’s training ground

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter

Bromley residents say cars driving to a Premier League football club’s academy have thrown the area into ‘chaos’. 

Crystal Palace Football Club (CPFC) Academy, in Copers Cope Road, Beckenham has operated on the site since 2012, seeing a major redevelopment in 2020.

Stephanie Sfakianos, 66, has lived in Copers Cope Road with her husband for more than 30 years. She said that since the redeveloped academy opened, traffic in the street has become a ‘disaster’ and cars remain stationary for prolonged periods of time on match and training days.

Ms Sfakianos said: “For 15 minutes, nobody moves. You can imagine what the environmental impact of that is with cars up and down the road with their engines running.”

The academy sent an application to Bromley council last May for retrospective permission to install a fuel tank and chimney for under pitch heating on the grounds. 

The application follows a previously rejected application for the fuel tank in 2021.

Ms Sfakianos said: “I actually have a little studio at the bottom of my garden and I would be very reluctant to use it while the tank is running because the noise and smell is quite overpowering.”

“There has been a busy sporting facility here since we moved in. CPFC are the only users of the facility that have led to this degree of chaos.”

She added: “It’s not that the neighbourhood doesn’t want a sports facility here. We are extremely comfortable with the principle. 

“But the situation with the traffic has not been managed, and I think we don’t have any confidence at all that we have a clear and honest picture of how bad the traffic situation could potentially get if they started playing lots more matches here.”

Another resident, who wished to remain anonymous, has lived on Copers Cope Road with their family for 17 years. She said before CPFC took over the site, there was a gym, children’s play centre and set of bookable football pitches on the grounds, but that ‘continual traffic jams’ has changed the whole area since.

She said: “Occasionally people would park across my drive once every six months. It happens daily now.”

“We get disturbed quite regularly at three in the morning from people returning from away matches, lights in our bedroom, noise from the cars or, if they’re younger, it’s the parents waiting to pick them up, so the cars are idling outside.”

A CPFC spokeswoman said the area in and around the site has always been a hub for sport, with Kent County Cricket Club also nearby. 

“We recognise that there are some operational issues – particularly around traffic and entry to the site, which we have made positive improvements to and are committed to improving further. We also wish to continue our regular, positive interactions and engagement with our immediate neighbours.”

They added: “We also repeatedly stress to guests the importance of respecting our local neighbours when arriving at and leaving the site – and we will continue to do so. We are also creating a dedicated coach park and drop off area which will be active later this year, which will reduce the impact to the road too. And we are supportive of proposals to reduce the speed restriction to 20mph to improve road safety.”

Bromley council was approached for comment, but had not responded at the time of publication.

Pictured top: Stephanie Sfakianos, 66, shown in her back garden in front of the fuel tank and chimney of the academy (Picture: Joe Coughlan)

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