(P.170) Kentish Times, Thursday, 29 July 2010 (page 3)

by Kate Nelson

Residents lose fight to save Crystal Palace land from homes scheme

John Payne
Chairman of the Crystal palace Community Association, John Payne

CPPark terrace
Crystal Palace Park as it stands today
Richard Francis and Suzanne Elkin
Richard Francis and Suzanne Elkin
Developers accused of bulldozing ahead with luxury property plan
FURIOUS residents claim their viewpoints have been ignored after permission was granted for a £67 million park redevelopment.
The London Development Agency's masterplan for Crystal Palace Park was given the green light, subject to some conditions by the Secretary of State for Planning Eric Pickles on Thursday.
The decision followed a five-week inquiry held last July after Bromley council first agreed planning permission for the overhaul of the 200 acre site in 2008.
More than 8,000 people objected to 180 new “luxury" homes with panoramic views across London and Kent which would have furnished the council with £12 million to invest in the park.
Chairman of the Crystal Palace Community Association John Payne said: "It's a dreadful decision as far as the park is concerned but a very good one if you're a developer. None of our views have been taken on board. We are not particularly surprised by the decision but obviously we are very disappointed, some people I've spoken to have been virtually in tears."
London's only campsite, Crystal Palace Caravan Club, is located in the park on land which the planning permission has been granted for.
Mr Payne added: "The caravan club's position is untenable now. They are living on borrowed time and it means they will not invest in the site as they were planning to. We will be losing a very valuable resource."
Resident Mike Warwick, of Stambourne Way, Crystal Palace, campaigned fiercely against the development. He said:
"The secretary of slate may have cause to regret his decision. I am disgusted but not surprised. They have totally ignored our views. It is extremely concerning for the future of parks and open spaces because this will be a watershed for the sale of parkland for housing and commercial development.
"It will get worse because of the economic situation as local authorities sell off land to the highest bidders to make money. Some people who live on the periphery of the park have threatened to take the matter to the EU courts on the basis of human rights. If or when the building work does begin we will be back to the days of people lying in front of the bulldozers. They are not going to stand for this. I collected 5,000 of those signatures but we could have collected 100,000 had there been enough time."

Bromley council said the fact that no developers had ever been secured was a "matter of public record" but said it would soon be discussing with the LDA a way to realise the proposals. It admitted it was a very difficult financial climate.

A spokesperson for Bromley council said: "We are quietly pleased with the Government decision about the proposals as it vindicates our original planning decisions. However, as the applicants, the LDA still have some work to do before planning permission is finally granted and this is obviously something that the LDA need to address." The statement added that discussions about funding will need to be held. A spokesperson for the LDA said: "We have always believed the masterplan for Crystal Palace Park is balanced and well conceived. It proposes a way to improve the park and increase the amount of green, open space available.

"The Secretary of State's decision supports that view. We will now begin with Bromley council and the neighbouring boroughs the process to turn the masterplan into action."
Mayor claims 67.5 million proposal is acceptable
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London
Mayor of London
The application for the £67.5 million redevelopment was submitted to owners Bromley council by the London Development Agency on November 1 2007. The proposals include selling off land including London's only campsite to build 180 luxury apartments, a 5OO space car park, excavated gardens with 60ft high greenhouses, tree-top walkway through the English Landscape Garden, a five-storey museum, a horticultural and animal husbandry training college as well as cafes and kiosks. Objections cited by protesters include a concern it will set a precedent for building on protected parkland, a threat to wildlife, increased pollution and asset stripping. Supporters believe it will lead to better regeneration of the park as a whole and that it is worth the trade off of for the land lost. English Heritage and the Greater London Authority both supported the plans while objectors included the Crystal Palace Community Association, the Joseph Paxton Society and Sport England have also presented evidence against the plan. The London Development Agency's plans made up 11,500 pages of document, which were submitted to Bromley council and the five-week inquiry was one of the largest London has ever seen. Mayor Boris Johnson advocated the proposals, saying the development of the parkland was acceptable because it would help with its overall refurbishment.  

Ed. Notes:
This Outline Planning permission went through probably the most comprehensive consultation period of any previous, similar plans ending in a month-long enquiry. The inspector's report, after everyone had their say, came out in favour of the whole scheme (bar a few minor conditions). This vindicated the long battle that the LDA and others had to finally get it accepted, including a majority of people who actually saw the Master Plan exhibition. The scheme was first presented to Bromley Council in November of 2007, was passed by them with a substantial 11-4 majority in December 2008 and was subjected to a public enquiry in August-September 2009. At last, the difficult task of executing the project can begin with a new-found confidence that the internationally renowned Crystal Palace Park will be regenerated from its current run-down condition.

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11/08/10 Last Updated 11/08/10