New Community Sports Centre at Norman Park

30 Dec 2022

The Trustees of Blackheath & Bromley Harriers Athletic Club have announced that the new Community Sports Centre at Norman Park will be open for public use on 3rd January 2023. This marks the culmination of a bold and ambitious plan by this volunteer-run club that guarantees the future of the athletic track for the people of Bromley and delivers a new building offering community facilities.

Cllr Julie Ireland, one of the 3 Lib Dem councillors for Bromley Town ward which covers Norman Park, had the privilege of a pre-opening tour of the facilities with Chris Hilditch and Robert Cliff two of the many volunteers at the club."I am delighted to have had this tour of the new building - I am in awe of the what this group of volunteers has achieved and their brave and bold vision for what could be achieved on this site. I remember it as a small building housing fairly basic changing rooms whereas now the community has access to a modern building wtih floor to ceiling windows giving a great view of the track plus impressive catering facilities. The new building represents a great community facility for the people of Bromley while securing the future of the track for generations to come".

Tim Soutar, Club trustee, said: ‘We are delighted that, after many years of what has, at times, seemed like a gigantic game of snakes and ladders, our new facility is almost ready to open its doors to the community. In addition, at a time when athletics clubs up and down the country are facing uncertainty over the continuing availability of their facilities, our members’ investment in the project has been rewarded, leaving us largely in control of our own destiny. The Club has just enjoyed one of its most successful competitive years in our 153 year history and we can now look forward to many more.’


The project started as long ago as 2014, when it was made clear that Bromley Council were keen to lose the cost of operating and maintaining the track. The Club were committed to securing the future of such a valuable community asset so eventually they were offered a 125 year lease if they took on the obligations of operating and maintaining the facility. 

This presented a huge challenge for the Club: to find a way of funding the significant costs of such a venture over both the short and the long term. The Club quickly determined that, despite the size of the challenge, this was an opportunity that had to be grasped. The major hurdle was clearly to find a way of generating the funds required to cover operating expenses. Athletic tracks, however well used, require significant subsidies to cover their costs, which would be beyond the means of the Club.

A solution was soon identified: if the Club could redevelop the old changing rooms into a much larger building containing a range of community facilities, not only would this greatly improve the available facilities, but the revenue challenges could be met. A long term funding problem had been converted into a demanding, short term, capital-raising exercise.  The benefits, both to the Club and the community, were such as to justify the members of the Club in selling its freehold clubhouse in Hayes to provide a substantial part of the required capital. Applying Club reserves and with additional, generous contributions from a number of Club members, narrowed the funding gap further. With a successful application for a grant from Sport England, a further grant from the Borough and a loan facility from the Charity Bank, the target was substantially met.

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