17 April 2009:
When is a Crystal Palace not a Crystal Palace? When it’s a hotel and entertainment complex
The CPCA has received the following letter from Dr Martin Heath.
Come on out you cowards and fight! That's my message to the moneymen lurking in the shadows behind the so-called “Rebuild Crystal Palace” project, which is being fronted publicly by certain traders on the Triangle, and architect Ray Hall.
The Crystal Palace Dialogue saw representatives of the local community throw out the Rebuild scheme and overwhelmingly back a managed nature garden option for the overgrown section of the Crystal Palace hilltop next to the TV mast, where the caravan park was originally located. This concept was incorporated into the London Development Agency Masterplan: "At the northern end of the Terrace, the existing ‘Nature Garden’ is incorporated into a series of ecological spaces, enhancing existing ecologies and creating opportunities for increasing biodiversity." (LDA Masterplan Design & Access Statement)
The Rebuild’s followers responded by hatching a scheme with bankers, businessmen, and the Leader of Bromley Council to bring back the threat of commercial development on a public park, which thousands of people fought so hard and so successfully to prevent. It’s nauseating how the Rebuild recycles propaganda directly from the defeated multiplex. With a sense of déjà vu, we hear that it will create over a thousand jobs and revitalise the area - and that it is loved by everyone, except for a few vocal opponents. So why do those bank-rolling it skulk in the shadows, when they could emerge and bask in public acclaim? Could it be that the project, once underway, would metamorphose into even less acceptable forms? Its original investor never identified himself. Last year, supporters crowed that the Clydesdale Bank had promised over a quarter of a billion pounds. We wrote, asking how this could make business sense in the present (or any) economic climate, but the Bank and Bromley refused to acknowledge our letters.
"Until politicians act decisively over London's parkland, the developers will continue to circle parks like hungry sharks around a sinking life raft"
The Rebuild's name is misleading. The Hyde Park and Sydenham Crystal Palaces celebrated the greatest imperial and industrial power the world had ever seen - at a heady moment in history, which cannot be recaptured.
The Rebuild is about a sordid seizure by moneymen of what is now Metropolitan Open Land in a Grade II* registered park for a hotel, leisure centre and – oh yes, some kind of community facility with charitable status, so that the whole thing can be passed off to the gullible as an act of philanthropy – all packaged up in a Paxtonesque exterior, to cynically exploit nostalgia for the Crystal Palace. If a permanent building for a cultural centre or national exhibition were to be built today, would the Sydenham hilltop be chosen as the prime location? The Rebuild gang chants that nowhere but the historic 1854 Crystal Palace site will do. Yet Hall first wanted a chunk of Blackheath for his project, until local residents fought him off.
The very notion that the future of a public park should be decided by a gaggle of traders in cahoots with big business is outrageous. It highlights a shameful failure of the politicians to give our public open spaces meaningful protection, and to develop a coherent long-term plan for their management. Until politicians act decisively over London's parkland, the developers will continue to circle parks like hungry sharks around a sinking life raft. For some years, the question of whether public parks are sacrosanct or legitimate targets for development (particularly staff-only and other areas not open to the public) has been fought out on a park-by-park basis. Much public-spirited energy, from many people, which might otherwise have been expended usefully in the community on other essential causes, has been absorbed in fighting politicians, planners and developers. This is not a responsible way to administer public open space.
Don’t be tempted to back the Rebuild scheme, or to give it your valuable time, energy or cash, because a major hotel chain, such as is mooted here, can afford to cough up to promote its own scheme. Why give it unpaid labour?
It’s time for the mystery moneymen step out of the shadows and face our community in person.
Dr Martin Heath,
Chair, Ridge Wildlife Group
The letter above is taken from the CPCA Spring 2009 newsletter which includes detailed articles on local issues including the LDA Masterplan application.
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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