The much-hyped new construction at Crystal Palace Park is not, as claimed, a ‘rebuild’ of the Crystal Palace. It is a vast commercial complex, marketed as a fairy story, but in truth a desecration of public parkland for private profit.
This massive scheme, with its associated infrastructure, would occupy up to 20 acres of Crystal Palace Park hilltop – the area originally earmarked for the abortive multiplex. However, this parody of the Hyde Park Crystal Palace is anything but miniature. At a third the size (although currently quoted as two thirds the size) of the one million square feet Sydenham Crystal Palace, its prime use would be as a 4/5 star hotel, with conference facilities, unspecified leisure/recreation uses and other commercial activities.
Sue Nagle, a former resolute opponent of major built development on the hilltop, but now a leading proponent of the so-called ‘rebuild’, claims in the Norwood Society’s Spring 2008 Review that: “The scheme, estimated at £265 million, will be privately funded” and that: “ Not one penny from the public purse will be necessary!” Ms Nagle modestly claims that the proposed hotel, recreation and leisure complex: “is going to be the most prestigious building in the world”.
As a blatantly commercial venture, one would not expect it to receive benefit from the public purse, but with breathtaking arrogance Ms Nagle calls upon Bromley Council to commit valuable land, they hold in trust for their council tax-payers, to enable this commercial speculation.
Corporate investors would not believe their good fortune should such an outrageous strategy be successful. Some might consider the ‘rebuild’ an audacious attempt to railroad-through commercial development, in a pastiche of Paxton’s Crystal Palace, whilst hijacking public land worth millions of pounds.
Visitors to Ms Nagle’s Church Road exhibition were shown a redundant video that featured the 1851 Hyde Park Palace and not the 1854 Sydenham Palace, and may not have realised there is no proposal to rebuild a replica of Paxton’s original Crystal Palace and that they were being asked to support development of a five star hotel with other recreational and leisure facility. Surprisingly, despite claims that “funding is in place”, the architect is unable to provide an updated DVD due to cost restraint, and no planning application supported by Environmental and Transport Impact assessments has been submitted to Bromley.
Blanket opposition to the multiplex revolved around, not just permanent loss of parkland, but also the damaging effect on the surrounding area and roads of a large one-stop commercial development with an insatiable appetite for a procession of service vehicles and cars.
When Bromley granted planning permission for the multiplex they did so in the awareness that an investment of this scale could not be allowed to fail. Accordingly, the applicant was given carte blanche for possible change of use to ensure the continued viability of the development. The same would be true of the proposed Crystal Palace building with its multi-million pound investment.
If for whatever reason, the operation of the proposed 4/5 star hotel-recreation-leisure complex were to become unviable, conversion of the complex to expensive luxury apartments would be a likely outcome.
Worryingly, Mayor Livingstone, Cllr Stephen Carr, Leader of Bromley Council and Cllr Mike Fisher, Leader of Croydon Council, are quoted as supporting the idea despite the absence of a planning application, Environmental Impact Assessment, Traffic Impact Assessments or basic business plan. Such proposal would be contrary to the Mayor’s London Plan and Bromley’s and Croydon’s UDPs, which maintain that protection of Metropolitan Open Land is paramount.
Some might favour a small structure, commemorating Paxton’s original Palace that would provide access and protection to the Subway and the tree-lined ridge, with possible uses that were not overtly commercial. It would, of course, need to respect the Crystal Palace Acts and be ancillary to MOL uses.
Would future generations thank us for allowing yet more depletion of green open space for further commercial exploitation of a public park? What is really needed to enable ‘regeneration’ of the area is the restoration of this once beautiful park – to become again a landmark in its own right.
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CPCA legal challenge over Park housing Posted - February 2012
The Crystal Palace Community Association is challenging the decision of the Secretary of State to approve sale of protected public parkland for construction of luxury apartments, under London Development Agency Masterplan proposal for Crystal Palace Park.>> Full story here
CPCA responds to Bromley's 'Core Strategy' consultation Posted - December 2011
The London Borough of Bromley has begun the process of producing their 'Core Strategy' document for the Borough. This document will help determine the long-term planning strategy for the Borough and its conclusions will be incorporated into their Local Development Framework (LDF) - a replacement for the current Unitary Development Plan (UDP).>> Full story here
Upper Norwood Library faces closure and sale after Croydon withdraw funding Posted - November 2011
The unilateral decision by Croydon Council to 'terminate' the Upper Norwood Library Joint Agreement was, according to Croydon, the direct consequence of '...fundamental breach of the agreement by Lambeth Council'. Such breach, according to Croydon, was the refusal by Lambeth Council 'to attend the last Annual General Meeting and failing to co-operate at the 2010 meeting.'>> Full story here
Re-run AGM farce as Croydon refuses to honour Joint Library Agreement Posted - September 2011
Croydon Council's continuing failure to meet the terms of their partnership agreement with Lambeth Council, caused yet another meeting of The Upper Norwood Joint Library Committee to be abandoned last Thursday, the 15 September, when more than seventy people attended the Library Annual General Meeting, where the future of the 111-year old Library was to be considered.>> Full story here
CPCA to challenge Secretary of State's approval for 180 luxury flats in Crystal Palace Park Posted - January 2011
Following the Secretary of State's Formal Decision to grant planning permission to the LDA Masterplan application for Crystal Palace Park, the CPCA have been advised that there are powerful legal grounds to challenge this in the High Court. It is currently preparing evidence and other material to tight deadlines and urgently considering the matter of costs.>> Full story here
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