'Real risk' athletics track could close without funding for repairs

Parliament Hill athletics track

The City of London Corporation has bid for up to £2m - Credit: Archant

There is a “real risk” the Parliament Hill athletics track could close over insurance concerns if it fails to receive funding for repairs.

The City of London Corporation (CoLC) issued the warning as it bids for up to £2m to resurface and refurbish the track on Hampstead Heath.

Works are needed to maintain the track’s safety accreditation, which expires in March 2022.

CoLC officer Declan Gallagher told the Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood and Queen's Park Committee on September 29: “The track is at the end of its use for life span.  

“We’ve got major issues with delamination, we’ve got cracking, we’ve got curbs that are unstable and just general wear and tear for that particular track.

Runner Tina Bergman training at Parliament Hill athletics track

Runner Tina Bergman training at Parliament Hill athletics track - Credit: Polly Hancock

“The biggest risk that we have on Hampstead Heath is that the track is accredited through Trackmark, and that’s accredited from UK Athletics.  

“Our current accreditation finishes in March 2022 and there’s a real, real, real risk if we don’t get successful with this capital bid, then we’ll probably have to close the track as it’s going to affect insurance for athletics and it’s going to affect the clubs that use the track.”

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An internal bid has been put to the City of London for internal capital funding – but the municipal body responsible for the Heath is also looking at trying to source external funds.  

Camden Council is being considered as one potential option, and the City of London said it had a “useful” conversation with the local authority. 

Anne Fairweather, chair of the Hampstead Heath committee, said: “It’s a significant amount of money but equally it’s a heavily used track and one where if we don’t maintain the international accreditation we will lose both some of our amateur sports as well as things like the Night of the 10,000m, so it’s something we’re keen to support.”

Ziad Chaudry

The Night Of 10,000m PB's is held annually at the Parliament Hill athletics track - Credit: Ziad Chaudry

Alastair Aitken, from the Highgate Harriers, said the running club was aware of ongoing efforts to source funding, and that it had been consulted as part of the application process.  

TrackMark is used to maintain the standards of facilities and equipment set by UK Athletics, the sport’s governing body.