Schoolchildren consulted on future of
Crystal Palace Park

The Crystal Palace Campaign last week widened its consultation questionnaire exercise on the future of Crystal Palace Park by taking it to three prominent South London schools. Speaking after addressing 120 12-year olds at Kingsdale Comprehensive School, Dulwich, Philip Kolvin CPC Chairman stated:

“My overwhelming reaction was that the children were delighted to become involved. I told them that them that just because they did not have the vote did not mean that we should ignore their views. To the contrary, it was because they could not vote that we had to take special account of their views. Also, being 30 years younger than me meant that they had 30 more years to enjoy the park than I do.

”I heard more ideas from the mouths of 8-12 year olds than I have heard or read about from the bureaucrats over the last 15 years. It was a concrete demonstration of why top-down regeneration fails and bottom regeneration works. It is a question of finding out what the users want and then delivering.”

Round off the day Kolvin did a rapid tour including Dulwich College, speaking there to 160 16-year-olds and also to two upper sixth form business and economic groups, to Sydenham High School for Girls, speaking there to 110 8-10year olds, and finally to Kingsdale.

In his speech Kolvin set the issues in the context of the recent New York terrorist outrages, and emphasised the crucial importance of democratic institutions as a response to terror and the need for all citizens to play an active part in democratic process at local level. He spelt out the Park’s recent history culminating in Bromley Council’s abandoning the hugely opposed cine multiplex and stated in part:

“The questionnaire calls on you to make some sensitive judgments. Should the site of the Palace be built on at all? If so, what building could do justice to the history of the site, and its topographical prominence on the London skyline? Why should any building not be placed in a town centre such as London, Beckenham or Croydon, rather than in our fast diminishing open space?

“When the Palace was built, you could ride to it across common land from the centre of London. Now, the site is an oasis of green space in an urban agglomeration. Should there be community facilities or should we try to make something of wider importance? Should we merely explore the archaeology of the site and mark out its perimeter for those who love the history of the building? Should it be a sculpture park, a garden of the senses for the blind, or a huge playground for the young? Should it be horticultural, accommodating greenhouses, palm houses, butterfly houses? Or should it be a museum of technology, or architecture or horticulture? What will it look like on the London skyline? Will we regret our decision in 10 years, or in 50? These are not questions you can answer in 5 minutes. I want you to take these questionnaires away and give them your serious thought.

“When you return them, your views will be read, analysed and published. And then we will set about campaigning to make sure that the Park is regenerated in the way the community as a whole wants. You know that Stage 1 of the Campaign has worked. The multiplex has been stopped. Now it is stage 2, to deliver what the community wants. Please, help us to help you to get the park you want.

“Your participation in this matters very much. By participating in a democratic process, you help to reaffirm democracy itself.”

Note to editors: The Crystal Palace Campaign has distributed over 35,000 questionnaires in the areas bordering the Park, and after analysis of the completed replies will be publishing a full report by the end of the year. It is the first such consultation ever attempted in the 150 year history of the Park.

Press Officer: Fred Emery 020 8761 0076 Mobile: 0794 117 202
All correspondence to: Hon Secretary, 33 HogarthCourt, Fountain Drive, London SE19 1U
E-mail: fred@syre.demon.co.uk Website: www.crystal.dircon.co.uk

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18/9/01 Last updated 18 /9/01