A RAFT OF NEW PLANS for Crystal Palace park have been highlighted at the first annual meeting of the park’s community stakeholder group.
The meeting came in the wake of announcements that surveys were being made of both the park’s sphinxes and the historic subway underneath Crystal Palace parade with a view to repair work being undertaken.
Stakeholder group chairman Martin Tempia told the meeting in the Paxton suite in The Lodge they had held ‘drop ins’ at Crystal Palace station, at the Penge gate of the park and outside Sainsbury’s on Westow Street which were “quite an education”.
“It rapidly became evident the vast majority of people we spoke to had no contact with existing local organisations or news networks locally. “That came as a real surprise and posed a few problems, certainly aspirations I had about the way we, as a group, were operating and liasing with community organisations.
“There’s evidence of people who aren’t normally involved in community parks turning up rolling their sleeves up and getting engaged in park-related issues. “That’s one of the key areas we’re going to consider over the next few months and doing what we can to support other organisations.”
Voluntary projects with organisations like the Friends of Crystal Palace Park and Crystal Palace Transition Town had been promoted via Facebook and Twitter.
The meeting heard updates on a variety of plans which included:
COMMUNITY CHEST The group are keen to establish a community chest that would enable groups wanting to do small projects in the park to apply for a small pot of money to undertake these projects buy equipment plant etc.
“That would be a great way of developing the voluntary work that’s being undertaken in the park” said Martin.
JOBCENTRE PLUS would be making around £100,000 available to initiate training education schemes in the park as part of an initiative with Living Networks, the meeting heard.
“These will concentrate on three broad areas, all of which will have a direct relevance to some of our activities but also be of benefit to the park and not just to the community but regionally and nationally” said Martin Tempia.
The areas would be video production, publishing skills and web design..
Living Networks was the Eden Project outreach arm which came down and developed an interest in the potential of the park, he added.
They would be liaising with the Crystal Palace and Norwood Chamber of Commerce and local companies about the initiative and had also spoken to interim trustees of Upper Norwood library to see if some of the classroom element could be based in the library on Westow Hill to anchor it there.
CONCERT BOWL If there was one thing which would convince people the park is on an upward curve it was regular use of the concert bowl. Events organisers had been approached to take on the bowl for a fixed period but the issue of the stage floor needed to be addressed first of all.
(In June 2012 the massive Crystal Palace Garden Party planned in the park was scrapped after it was discovered joists in the stage of the concert bowl had rotted away.
The event was due to play host to performances from acts such as Rick Wakeman, Hawkwind, Barclay James Harvest, Focus, The Strawbs, Curved Air and The London Gala Symphony Orchestra.)
“In the short term we hope to see events staged by local entertainers, musicians, artists etc. “We are now getting groups coming together who want to put ‘pop art’ events in and around the park” said Martin.
EDIBLE GARDEN Mehul Damani said the area round the base of the tower next to Crystal Palace museum on Anerley Hill and outside it was being cleared.
Some plants had already been put in. They would like to use raspberries and strawberries planted outside for jam and sell it to raise funds for the museum.
They also hoped to restore the weighbridge outside the museum and make features around the outside of the museum more visible.
ENGLISH HERITAGE: had sent a team to walk round the park with group members. Martin Tempia told the meeting: “They were quizzing us all the way. “At the end of the walk they actually said ‘we have experts in heritage, landscape design, architecture, we have historians. if you need any assistance use us as a resource.’.
“That’s really encouraging. “It’s the first time I’ve heard a statutory undertaking offering themselves to community organisations in such a facilitating and supporting role.”
GROUP VACANCIES Interviews to fill the three vacant posts on the group would again be handled by Community Links. The next 12 months would be a period of delivery and they needed to enhance their skill base and bring in people with the appropriate skills for the projects they would be undertaking.
Opening the meeting, Martin Tempia said initial meetings of the group had spent a lot of time doing the groundwork to establish it which included adopting a constitution.
At the meeting’s close he said that in the past 12 months they had gone from setting themselves up to moving towards becoming a fund-holding organisation.
“There’s a lot that we can be proud of.”
*THIS SUNDAY (April 7th) the Crystal Palace museum will be conducting a 90 minute guided tour across the Victorian remains of the Crystal Palace site.
A tour guide will be on hand to take all on what is described as “a fascinating journey through the history of the Palace and will include taking in the Marine Aquarium,
Orangery and 19th Century Dancing Platform, plus many other features.
The tour starts from the museum at 12 noon. Tickets are available from the
museum on the day at £3.50, and concessions apply.