REVELATIONS THAT a Chinese billionaire was having discussions about re-building the Crystal Palace have angered the park’s community stakeholder group – which was set up by Bromley council.
In a stinging attack stakeholder group chairman Martin Tempia says the revelation – and the way in which it was made – “stands in stark contrast to the recent flow of information between Bromley, the CSG and other groups, which has developed over the last 18 months.
“This departure inevitably raises questions of trust and good faith, between Bromley, the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the wider community” says Mr Tempia..
His comments come in a letter – to both the GLA and Bromley council – in which Mr Tempia expresses the concern of local people about the lack of consultation in the progression of the reported talks with ZhongRon Hodings Ltd.
The letter adds: “We refer to Bromley’s blind copied email, circulated on the afternoon of Thursday July 25th. “This stated that Bromley is having “a very early conversation with a developer who may be interested in developing the so called top site.”
“The Community Stakeholder Group (CSG) was surprised and disappointed to be informed of this development in this way – not least because it appears that the announcement was driven by a desire to pre-empt a news story in ‘Property Week’ and not to keep the community informed.
“Moreover, this revelation and the way in which it was made, stands in stark contrast to the recent flow of information between Bromley, the CSG and other groups, which has developed over the last 18 months. “This departure inevitably raises questions of trust and good faith, between Bromley, the GLA and the wider community.
“One of our functions is to act as a conduit between the park executive and the community, a formal role set out in the park executive’s terms of reference. “Our inability to respond to the enquiries and concerns expressed following Bromley’s announcement has been damaging and has caused us to question the nature of our relationship with Bromley and the GLA.
“All stakeholder groups in the new park management structure should have been made aware of the discussions in a more appropriate and timely manner.
“Bromley’s email implies that discussions with the potential developer are on-going.
“Can you please confirm when and by what means, the community will be involved in these. “This is vital, as the uncertainty this announcement has caused is very damaging.
“It also raises the question of how and when in the future, we and other stakeholder groups will be informed of any other discussions, and kept updated and involved in plans for the park.
“We would like confirmation that Bromley and GLA have made it clear to the ‘developer’ that there is an approved Masterplan for Crystal Palace park which was developed through extensive consultation with the community and is currently being used an as inspirational blueprint for the GLA’s 10 Point plan and the Heritage Lottery Funding (“HLF”) bid.
“With regard to the HLF bid, we would like an explanation as to why none of the proposals for the top site contained in the Masterplan, e.g. the museum/Interpretation centre with viewing platform and the tree-top walkway, have found their way into the HLF bid, currently being drafted.
“There is understandable concern that these on going talks call into question the status of the Masterplan and the 10 Point plan, and jeopardise the impending HLF bid. “Even allowing for the paucity of information provided, it is difficult to see how the recent discussions fit within the current agreed plans for the park. “The proposal, as reported in Property Week, represents a very significant departure from what the Masterplan envisages for the top site.
“It is imperative that Bromley and the GLA confirm whether or not they intend to honour their previously expressed commitment to the Masterplan and other related current plans, for the park. “It was Bob McQuillan, the former chief planner of Bromley who said that the vision of the Masterplan would provide a template for Crystal Palace park’s future over the next 25 years. “It would, therefore, be helpful if Bromley could clarify the exact status of the Masterplan, the weight it holds in Bromley’s planning framework and whether it is a material consideration when considering speculative proposals coming forward for the park please.
“Numerous schemes have been put forward over the years for large commercial developments on the top site, none of which have had significant community support. “The damaging consequences of such a development, for the park, local economies, traffic volumes and the environment, have been extensively explored and discussed. “There is real concern that the current discussions will further delay much needed investment in the park, and undermine the hard work already undertaken to improve the park for the community.
“We believed that a clear consensus had emerged amongst the GLA, Bromley and stakeholders that the future of the park and its regeneration lay in incremental, sustainable improvements and that the work done over the last two years has shown this to be an appropriate and viable way forward. “Recent events have called all this into question and it is essential that the GLA and Bromley publicly confirm their support of the park Masterplan.
“I look forward to hearing from you.”
LATEST PLANS ‘WILL AGAIN RESURRECT SAME ISSUES OF CONCERN’ – CRYSTAL PALACE CAMPAIGN
THE ‘WOEFUL LACK of communication’ over the latest scheme for the park’s top site has been slammed by Crystal Palace Campaign chairman Ray Sacks.
“The Crystal Palace Campaign was set up to oppose the cinema multiplex (cancelled in May 2001) and, in many respects, the rebuilding of a “radical reconstruction” of the Crystal Palace full size, will again resurrect the same issues of concern for local people; loss of a large amount of parkland, traffic problems, competition with local businesses and so on. “If we have to man the pickets, I have no doubt that there will be plenty of support.
“But the description of the size of the building means that it couldn’t be built anyway without an act of parliament or, more precisely, a change in the Bromley London borough council (Crystal Palace) Act (1990) which allows for a limited amount of building on the top site (known as pink land) but not nearly enough to accommodate the proposed monster. “No doubt, when the planning application is lodged we will know more. “At present it is all very mysterious.
“The one issue which stands out is the woeful lack of communication with local people i.e. stakeholders in the future of the park who have been working very hard to support Bromley council and the GLA in their Heritage Lottery Fund bids. “The proposals were brought to light by an article in Property Week, and picked up by the Times. “An email from the community development team at Bromley Council first alerted stakeholders as to what was happening with the reassurance that “‘should proposals become sufficiently advanced they will be shared widely’.
“Evidently, Bromley did not want us to find out what was going on through a third party report and so pre-empted the article.
Thanks for that, Bromley – is this the same council with whom we have very painstakingly built up a degree of trust in dealings with park matters? “What will be the next revelation in secret dealings with future developers who, not surprisingly, see the park as a great prize?”