CAMPAIGNERS FIGHTING to keep the existing nature garden on the top site in Crystal Palace park are holding a public meeting to gather support.
And they say the future of the nature garden – set to be swamped by a Chinese billionaire’s plans to build a new Crystal Palace on the site – may not be as bleak as first thought.
Martin Heath of the Friends of Belair park which is hosting the public meeting on Thursday June 12th, says: “We have heard from three different sources, including Bromley council’s leader, that maybe this is negotiable.
“An apparent crack has appeared in the wall. “We are inviting anyone in this room to be the sledgehammer that drives it home.”
At the moment the area – which fronts Crystal Palace Parade and is the former home of the caravan park – is all locked up.
Mr Heath’s comments came at the second of three meetings organised by the Information Project titled: Play / Space: innovation in the 21st century metropolis held at the Salvation Army centre on Westow Street.
At the meeting Amanda Sciberras, board member of both Anerley Regeneration Project and the recently-formed Penge Tourist Board, told an audience of around 70 people: “The Masterplan consultation, which cost millions of pounds, has been ripped up to make room for this proposal.
“The hill top walk way could be used for a wide range of events hooked in with the Crystal Palace subway and used for events to raise money for the park.
“Lea Valley park is 26 miles long and receives £26 million. “Crystal Palace park gets just £250,000 from one London borough. That London council (Bromley) put more in public money to Lea Valley than it did to Crystal Palace park.
“London is full of huge glass boxes. “They are all over the place on the skyline. “What’s lacking is green open spaces and that makes that green space we have much more valuable.
“The glass box will be bigger than Heathrow terminal one and 50 metres high – and I haven’t even got onto transport.”
Panellist Ben Stringer, academic and trustee Oxford City Farm Project, said one million more people were expected to move into London over the next 20 years.
“That’s a city the size of Birmingham. “It seems to be a crazy time to be putting up these kinds of spaces.”
Echoing comments made by Amanda Sciberras he added: “If it was me, I’d cherry pick the MasterPlan. “I really like the ideas of the trees marking out the line of the Palace. “That’s a brilliant idea.
“How is it that places like Hampstead Heath aren’t being split in half and sold off? “If that was published in the papers it would only be on April 1st.
“Your park, which is of national importance, is being deemed of less importance than others. “It’s just politics.” Crystal Palace park should be managed in the same way as other parks, he added.
Crystal Palace Community Association president Audrey Hammond said: “This park is in our blood.”
Referring to the failed Multiplex plans she added: “It cost Bromley £6 million to undo all that and pay for the uproar. “If they had spent that on the park we’d have been happy, Bromley would be happy.
“People making decisions at Bromley are pretty hopeless.” (Laughter).
Panellist Tim Gill, writer and consultant, Rethinking Childhood, said there was evidence from other London parks that those parks which had been improved for families and children saw a huge uptake in their use. “Which says to me there is a huge suppressed demand.”
THE PUBLIC meeting ‘How you can help us save the Crystal Palace nature garden’ is being held on Thursday June 12th 2012 at the Francis Peek building, Dulwich Park off College Road, SE21 starting at 7.30pm. The meeting, being hosted by the Friends of Belair Park, is expected to last about an hour. belairpark.org.uk
The Information Project is an independent information resource being developed by local residents to inform the community and interested parties about the proposed development in Crystal Palace Park by the Chinese corporation ZhongRong Group (ZRG) and their UK consultants Arup. This deal would mean the sale of the top site of the park, Metropolitan Open Land, by the London Borough of Bromley on a long lease to ZRG. The development was announced by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, during a press conference in Crystal Palace Park in October 2013. (Source: The Information Project)