(P.81) Page 1: Crystal Palace Climbdown
Plans for £55m leisure centre scrapped
by Mike Addelman, Beckenham &
Penge Shopper 16 May 2001
picture by Photopres(two others not included)
£55m leisure complex were scrapped by Bromley Council.
Campaignmers are celebrating victory after proposals for a £55m leisure complex were scrapped by Bromley Council.
In a move which shocked all concerned with its suddenness, the council pulled the plug on the scheme claiming developars London and Regional properties failed to complete the work within the "presscribed period."
It was announced in a joint statement by Tory, Liberal Democrat and Labour leaders Councillor Michael Tickner, Councillor Chris Maines and Councillor John Holbrook.
Joint council leader Cllr Maines said economic reasons had also forced the project to be scrapped.
"We made the decision because the bottom fell out of the multiplex cinema market and also the delays caused the Crystal Palace Campaign. It's a sad day for the people who live in the immediate area who would have benefited economically."
He added: "The site will now remain derelict for the foreseable future. We have no plans to do anything with it at the moment."
Darren Johnson, environment adviser to Ken Livingstone and leader of the Greens in the Greater London Assembly (GLA), called the decision to abandon the construction "an historic day for the local community".
He said: "I have been working night and day with local people to stop this eccentric scheme.
"And if it turned out Bromley has wasted money on the site, then it will be its fault. It shouldn't have started it in the first place."
But he warned: "We must not repeat the mistakes made last time and there must be a public debate to decide the site's future."
Mayor Ken Livingstone also told how "delighted" he was the "unacceptable scheme" had collapsed.
The Crystal Palace Campaign (CPC) which opposed the project, was also celebrating after battling with the council for four years.
Chairman Phillip Kolvin said: "Bromley's capitulation is a victory for the local community and a tribute to the tens of thousands of people who stood together.
"We knew it was the right thing to do in the face of the council's aggression and greed."
SPECIAL REPORT ON PAGE 3
Hunt for millions sunk in dead
project Bromley Council will be
trying "every avenue" to recover millions of pounds it sank
into the Crystal Palace Leisure Scheme. First in the legal firing
line is likely to be London & Regional Properties Ltd,
the developers who failed to complete the £55m complex
of cinemas, bars and restaurants within an undisclosed
But angry locals say the millions of pounds spent on the project, including £2.5m on evicting environmental campaigners from the site 1999, was a waste of public money.
Hunt for millions sunk in dead project
Bromley Council will be trying "every avenue" to recover millions of pounds it sank into the Crystal Palace Leisure Scheme.
First in the legal firing line is likely to be London & Regional Properties Ltd, the developers who failed to complete the £55m complex of cinemas, bars and restaurants within an undisclosed "prescribed period".
Millions more went into a high court battle with the Crystal Palace Campaign. Local architect George Ralph has even written to the district auditor demanding an investigation.
Council joint leader John Holbrook said: "The money wasn't wasted because of the benefits the regeneration money tied to the scheme brought to the area. But the council will be taking the appropriate legal courses."
He also said it was "obvious" the developers could be the focus of the council's action.
A council spokesman said the prospect of distriict audit investigation was "impossible." She said: 'There is no chance we will be investigated, but we will be pursuing every avenue to recoup the money."
London and Regional Properties Ltd was unavailable for comment.
Page 3: Jubilation as park plan panned
After five years of bitter argument, legal action snd political wrangling, plans to build a £55m leisure complex at Crystal Palace have finally been scrapped
by Mike Addelman PAGE 2
IT MIGHT have come out of the blue, but the cards were always stacked against Bromley Council, which announced it was abandoning controversial plans to build a £55m complex of cinemas, restaurants and bars at Crystal Palace last week.
The sensational news broke to the jubilation of campaigners in a joint statement by Tory, Liberal Democrat and Labour leaders who blamed the developers London and Regional Properties for failing to complete the work within the "prescribed period".
The Largest protest group, the Crystal Palace Campaign (CPC) had been battling against the plans since they were announced in 1997, saying it would bring congestion, pollution and crime to the area. CPP (sic, should be 'CPC' ed.) members delivered a 40,000 signature petition to 10 Downing Street in 1999 and challenged Bromley Council in the High Court.
More recently, eco-warriors built underground tunnels criss-crossing the area in an attempt to beat off the developers. An appeal to the European Commission by campaigners convinced the EU that Bromley Council had breached European law by failing to undertake an environmental impact assessment on the site. Top politicians also gave their support to the campaign with government minister . Tessa Jowel and Londorr Mayor Ken Livingstone joining in the chorus of criticism.
More recently, Labour MP Geraint Davies presented a bill in Parliament which would have transferred the responsibility of the site from Bromley Council to the Greater London Authority (GLA), which in turn would have scrapped the project. But despite the opposition, the council seemed to be on course for victory when councillors gave the final go-ahead for the plans at a noisy meeting at Bromley Civic Centre, in October 2000.
The battle lines were first drawn back in 1997 when local residents, alarmed at the proposed development near the Grade II listed, Crystal Palace Park, formed the Crystal Palace Caimpaign. But the dispute's roots go back 15 years to 1986, when the land was handed over to the council by Margaret Thatcher from the disbanded Greater London Council.
Darren Johnson, environment adviser to Ken Livingstone and leader of the Greens in the GLA, said: "This is marvellous news. Since being elected I have worked day and night to try to scupper this development and I am delighted.
"I would also like to pay tribute to the determination of local campaigners who never let up in their vigorous opposition to the scheme."
But he warned: "We must not repeat the mistakes that were made last time and there must be a public debate to decide the site's future."
A delighted CPC chairman Phillip Kolvin said the thousands of campaigners who had fought against the project deserved the credit. Council joint leader and Orpington Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, Councillor Chris Maines said: "We made the decision because the bottom fell out of the multiplex market and the delays caused by the CPC.
"It's a very sad day for the people who live in the immediate area who would have benefited it(sic) economically."
He added: "The site will now remain derellict for the foreseeable future and we have no plans to do anything with it at the moment."
And putting a united face on to the council's decision, Tory leader Councillor Michael Tickner said: "It took the developers too long to get their act together. Now the land is up for grabs. But this is not a defeat. It's just a disappointment after all this prevaricating."
He added: "The only opposition was due to nimbyism (not in my back yard) of the campaigners. We were only trying to bring jobs and prosperity to the area."
Developers London and Regional Properties declined to comment.
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3/6/01 Last updated 3/6/01