CONSULTATION on the latest proposals for Crystal Palace park has not been perfect, Bromley council leader Cllr Stephen Carr admitted at the meeting.
Arup, the lead consultant on the proposals, and others had underestimated how many people would turn up for consultation meetings, he said.
“The biggest issue is around planning and what’s going to be the content of this huge development.
“We have to see a very clear business case from ZhongRong group – then we can talk about planning and business development and a lease.
“And unless we get guarantees on a number of issues – many up front – we won’t be entering into an agreement and signing the park away.
“I genuinely don’t know what’s the final solution – what’s going to go in there.”
Rev Jonathan Croucher, chairing the meeting, asked why Bromley was only talking to one person..
Cllr Carr said: “There’s only been one person that’s been prepared to come forward. “There’s been talk with other people in the area but after many, many years discussions with Mr (Ray) Hall and other people not one clear proposal has come forward.
“It was an opportunity that was far too good to miss. “It’s not to say that people can’t come forward. “It’s one that potentially could be delivered without public money.”
A person from the floor said: “No-one asked them what was going to be in it and if they did what did the Chinese say?”
Cllr Carr responded: “Of course we did. “We’re still waiting for the answer.” (Laughter) “”We’re not going to do anything until we’ve had the answers to these questions – until we’ve had a proper worked out business case presented to us.”
And he added: “He’s (Mr Ni) absolutely clear the rest of the park should be put into a community trust.”
But Tom Chance of the Green party who is standing for Crystal Palace ward, said: “People are being misled about what’s going on here. “The process is very dodgy.
“They didn’t even go to the market – that’s why there are no otherr ideas for it. “They must know what’s going to be in it, what the impact on transport and ecology is. “The whole thing stinks.”
Lambeth Cllr Matthew Bennett (Lab Gipsy Hill) said there was no information and it was breeding resentment.
“Someone stopped me in the street the other day and asked if I was against the casino in Crystal Palace.
“Until we know what we are for or against it’s difficult to say yes or no.”It’s possible that something could go there that was sympathetic to Crystal; Palace.
“We did a survey in Gipsy Hill ward last year. 70 per cent of people were in favour of something going there – 60 pc if it was retail. But with two million people coming on public transport 80 per cent said no.”
Southwark Cllr Helen Hayes said: “We’ve been to three meetings where Arup had said ‘We’re here to help Mr Ni (the boss of ZhongRong) realise his vision for Crystal Palace.’.
“As things stand I don’t recognise the legitimacy of Mr Ni having a vision for Crystal Palace because he hasn’t talked to the people to see what they want to see happen in Crystal Palace park.
“Until we know what it is; the idea that Bromley are signing away a 125 year lease; the current state of affairs is really not satisfactory.”
Bromley Cllr Tom Papworth (Lib Dem Crystal Palace) said: “We were told about this by the Evening Standard and the Croydon Advertiser before we were told by Bromley council “I think that destroyed a lot of trust.
“We have to approach this with an open mind. “We have to wait and see what Zhong Rong come up with.
“But if this doesn’t end up with planning inquiries and court cases until 2020 I’ll eat my hat.”
A woman from the floor said she had supported the eco-warriors. “This one will be right for the area. “It’s known as the Crystal Palace – let’s have it back.”
Earlier Cllr Carr, who has represented Bromley Common and Keston ward for the past 10 years, said he had “already heard scare stories about this end of the borough. “Every area in Bromley borough gets equal treatment.”
Other points from the meeting:
GIPSY HILL POLICE STATION: Cllr Matthew Bennett (Lab, Gipsy Hill) said the Mayor of London had tried to close the station. “We ran a campaign to keep it open as a base for our local police.”
LAMBETH COUNCIL CABINET: Former Gipsy Hill ward councillor Graham Pycock who is standing as a Conservative candidate in Thurlow Park ward, said that if the Conservatives won Lambeth they would abolish the “cabinet group of all one party paying themselves lots of money meeting behind closed doors.
“We’ll create open government rather than cabinet government” he said.
QUOTES FROM THE MEETING:
“I see we’re going to have some fun this evening” – The Rev Jonathan Croucher, vicar of Christchurch, Giuspy Hill who chaired the meeting.
“You don’t have to be a councillor to get things done” – Cllr Tom Papworth.
“I know where the bodies are buried” – Graham Pycock