(N10) Crystal Palace Campaign - News Bulletin - Winter 2001
What next for the Campaign?
The Guardian called it "a staggeringly impressive Campaign." The National Association for Urban Studies called it "probably the greatest single issue grassroots political victory of the past decade over a government, a council and a developer " We thought it a victory for parks, democracy and common sense, allowed ourselves a glass of champagne and rolled up our sleeves to continue the battle. There is still a Park suffering from 65 years of neglect, with a planning permission for a multiplex cinema and a Unitary Development Plan allocation for commercial leisure. The monster is not dead, but resting. There's work to be done.
The Crystal Palace Campaign has tried, something rarely attempted in environmental politics, to cross the social, political and economic divide. Still more challengingly, we have represented those who want the Crystal Palace rebuilt, and those who would fight to preserve every last blade of grass on the top site. Now we must try to get all those fighting on the same side to fight for the same thing. This is the biggest battle of all.
So we haven't suggested a regeneration solution for Crystal Palace Park, but a process of community involvement leading to a solution. We want to bring constituent interests together to stimulate healthy, respectful debate. The debate must involve all stakeholders, whatever their views. That includes the London Borough of Bromley. We want to put the unity back into community.
This summer, we published a blueprint for a charitable trust, the Crystal Palace Trust, consisting of representatives of the five boroughs around the park, and local residents. The trust would work in partnership with the London Borough of Bromley to raise funds, consult local opinion and guide regeneration. We have consulted widely on the trust both among community representatives and politicians, who are broadly supportive. We have put the idea to Bromley, and are hoping that they will agree to it. For those who may think that we are not so much offering Bromley an olive branch as a whole tree and a jar of olives with it, we say that while the battle rages the Park festers: it is time to collaborate.
Meanwhile we have had a wonderful response to our consultation questionnaire, over 2,000 people having taken the trouble to complete it. We took great care to consult school children, and are grateful to the many schools who co-operated. We have an enormous quantity of data to organise, and hope to publish the results in January 2002.
Europe takes on UK
In a major rebuff to the UK authorities, the European Commission announced in August that it intended to pursue infringement proceedings against the Government because of Bromley's refusal to conduct an environmental assessment of the multiplex proposals.
The Environment Commissioner, Margot Wallström, said: "I regret that the Commission has to remind Member States to safeguard the important environmental rights of the public to receive environmental information and be consulted on the possible environmental impacts of projects, as foreseen under this key Directive. These rights are a tangible expression of a Community that is close to the citizen. "What is more, because of our complaint, the Commission is to challenge the whole structure of UK planning decision making, which excludes the possibility of environmental assessment at the detailed planning stage. We hope this ruling will give greater protection to green space threatened elsewhere.
Unitary Development Plan
Bromley's Unitary Development Plan (UDP) proposals in respect of Crystal Palace Park received more objections than any other proposal. Under the Plan, the Metropolitan Open Land ("MOL") status of the top-site is removed and the site is proposed for commercial leisure. The Sports Centre perimeter is expanded and termed a "major developed site". We have argued for retention of the MOL designation, and greater recognition of the historic value of the Park. Over half the objections to the Plan relate to Crystal Palace, and the issue is set for a major public inquiry next year. We hope that long before then, Bromley will withdraw its UDP proposals.
Our New Year prayer is that Bromley work as hard as we have to heal the rift, and start to work with the community on a common agenda. The energy at Crystal Palace is palpable: let us now channel it into regeneration rather than conflict.
Published by the Crystal Palace
33 Hogarth Court, Fountain Drive, London SE19 1UY
Tel./Fax.: 020 8670 8486
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10/12/01 Last updated 10/12/01