The Crystal Palace Community Association

 Battling since 1970 to save the Crystal Palace Triangle
 and Park from insensitive development

The newly formed CPCTA protests in May 1973
CPCA President Audrey Hammond heads the
  march in 1973 - today the Park faces proposals
  for housing and a tramline extension.

In May 1973, two hundred angry locals marched on Crystal Palace Park with banners proclaiming "Save our Park." Their anger was directed against Greater London Council's attempts to enclose the dinosaurs and their lakeside habitat, and charge entry. So began the first of many battles to preserve one of the community's most precious assets - its local park.

The CPCA and its aims

Many of those marching belonged to the recently founded Crystal Palace Triangle Community Association (CPTCA). The aim of the Association's founder, local artist Audrey Hammond, was to preserve the amenities of Crystal Palace - especially its Park and the distinctive triangle of nearby roads called by surrounding councils "the Upper Norwood District Centre" and by locals "the Triangle".

Today, the CPCA's planning subcommittee continues to work with local authorities to protect local interests. And since Upper Norwood/Crystal Palace straddles five London boroughs, there are many authorities to deal with.

Successes and setbacks

In 1988, the CPCA succeeded in getting the Triangle designated a conservation area. This helped to maintain its unique village atmosphere, 380 feet above the Thames with its outstanding views over the city and Kent.

CPCA at Crystal Palace Park's Victorian Day
CPCA at Crystal Palace Park's Victorian Day

Many locals, however, feel that the recent lack of planning enforcement and the introduction of a one-way system have compromised the area’s much-loved character and ambience.

Through effective lobbying and working with the Upper Norwood Chamber of Commerce and the surrounding boroughs, the CPCA was instrumental in changing the confusing parking controls in the Triangle and introducing a cross-borough Police Safer Neighbourhood Team – although disappointingly without the participation of Southwark.

More recently, the Community Association supported the Crystal Palace Campaign in the four-year battle to see off plans to build a massive cinema/leisure complex on the hilltop part of the park.

Selling off the Park for private housing

After the cinema/leisure complex had finally been seen off, many locals welcomed the so-called “Park redevelopment” plans proposed by Mayor Livingstone’s London Development Agency (LDA). They believed the LDA’s claims that they had in mind the best interests for the Park and the people.

Early morning in Crystal Palace ParkRelief was short-lived. With no business plan in sight, the LDA declared that the staggering sum of 50 million was essential for Park improvements (4 to 5 times more than any other park). Worst of all, they announced the sale of precious parkland for over 200 private luxury apartments and villas, setting a precedent that threatens all public parks.

The CPCA had hoped that our world-famous Grade II * historic Victorian Park would at last be properly protected. After all, it has Metropolitan Open Land status, lies largely within a conservation area, and provides a green lung to this densely populated area of London. Evidently the LDA thinks it's not worth protecting.

Our 7,000-signature petition
CPCA chairman John Payne with Cllr Darren Johnson and the petition to the London Mayor
CPCA chairman John Payne with Cllr Darren
  Johnson, leader of the Green Group at The London
  Assembly, and the petition to the London Mayor

Feelings are running high on this contentious issue, with 7,000 signing a petition to the London Mayor, organised by the CPCA, opposing the sale of parkland for private housing and other commercial development. But much hard work remains to be done, as the LDA is still determined to sell off parkland despite the voices of locals growing hoarse with their cries of “NO HOUSING ON OUR PARK!”

National Sports Centre and the Olympics

The public welcomed plans to replace the run-down National Sports Centre with a £50 million sports facility, more suitably located close to Crystal Palace Station, allowing the centre of the Park to revert to parkland.

Sadly, following the refusal of English Heritage to agree to the de-listing and demolition of the NSC, the LDA has decided to defer specific regeneration plans to an unspecified but much later date: influenced, no doubt, by the huge logistics and costs of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Make your voice heard by joining the CPCA

The CPCA is a registered charity with a strong and active membership, continuing to work on behalf of its members to save our Park and seek the best for our special patch of South East London. If you would like to join us or find out more about the CPCA, please see our Membership and Contact pages.

Member of the London Forum of Amenities and Civic Societies and The Open Spaces Society. Registered Charity No. 261790.

Upper Norwood - The Fresh Air Suburb
Courtesy of the Crystal Palace Foundation
Upper Norwood - The Polluted Suburb
With thanks to Mike Conrad for the adaptation, and to the original artist for
the inspiration... whoever you were!