EXCLUSIVITY AGREEMENT ON PARK ENDS – “Mayor should apologise” says Green party candidate
THE EXCLUSIVITY agreement between ZhongRong and Bromley will not be renewed, say Bromley council.
In a statement Bromley said the move followed the lapsing of the 16 month agreement at the beginning of February and a Bromley council offer to extend the period if certain conditions were met.
The 14 day period for a response has now lapsed without an agreement to extend the exclusivity period further, the statement added.
Bromley council leader Cllr Stephen Carr said, “There is a major opportunity here to do something that might really improve the park and provide much needed regeneration locally too.
“This was why we were prepared to properly listen to what ZhongRong had to say but we were never going to simply say ‘yes’ to absolutely anything as we need to get this right.
“We will now meet with community stakeholders as we have done all the way along this process to review options going forwards. Importantly too, we are continuing to progress plans to improve Crystal Palace park with an investment in excess of £2million.”
The local Green Party is now calling for Bromley and the GLA to move on from this “debacle” and focus on implementing the masterplan.
Tom Chance, Green party candidate for Lewisham West and Penge (in which the park sits), said: “Park users will be delighted to hear that this deal has finally fallen through.
“I also think the Mayor of London Boris Johnson owes Crystal Palace an apology for keeping community groups out of the park for sixteen months, and losing £4.5 million in lottery funding, while entertaining this ridiculous proposal.”
In their statement Bromley council said they had written to the ZhongRong Group (ZRG) following the lapse of the exclusivity period.
“The council, with the support of GLA, has subsequently written to ZRG giving them 14 calendar days (to 20th February) to agree to a number of financial and business planning-related conditions prior to the council considering the renewal of an exclusivity agreement.
“At the end of this 14 day period, the council wrote to ZRG and concluded that there was not a realistic prospect of reaching an agreement.”
ZHONGRONG MISS COUNCIL DEADLINE – ‘NOW WE CAN MAKE REAL PROGRESS’ SAY PARK GROUP
THE CHINESE developer who wanted to build a replica Crystal Palace on the site has failed to meet a Bromley council deadline.
The failure by the developer ZhongRong to meet the deadline could now sound the death knell for what is the latest in a long line of proposed developments for the site which fronts Crystal Palace Parade and is variously called the ‘top site’ or ‘hill top’.
News of the latest plans had come in October 2013 – being unveiled by Mayor of London Boris Johnson in a specially-constructed marquee in the park.
Crystal Palace Park Community Stakeholder Group, in a communique, said: “The conditions set by Bromley Council to Mr Ni and ZhongRong were meant to unblock the negotiations for the lease of the Palace Terrace where it was planned to build a ‘replica’ Crystal Palace.
“The deadline for a response (and responding included the payment of a £5million non-refundable deposit) was 20th February 2015.
“By the end of the day no communication had been received from ZhongRong and therefore we must assume that the proposal is now at an end as is the exclusion agreement between Bromley council and ZhongRong.
“There was a degree of elation at the end of a frustrating delay to the regeneration of Crystal Palace park, but the overriding feeling in saying goodbye to Mr Ni is one of relief.
“ZhongRong’s proposal caused the loss of a valuable HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund) grant of £7.5 million and the delay to any major work was at least the one and a half years it took from the public announcement in October 2013.”
The debate about the proposal encompassed many interests and, indeed, was given a fair hearing at first, say the group.
“Later it became evident that there was no substance to the plans; nothing other than vague promises were put forward.
“The architectural invitation led to a selection of six major companies who must also have been disconcerted by the lack of progress. “We believe all of them stood down their design teams some time ago.
“Now we can make real progress in the park without being fettered by a potentially disastrous scheme. “This last year and a half has actually brought the community together, brought in new and enthusiastic faces and has led to a new rapport with Bromley council.”
News of the £5 million non-refundable demand by Bromley in return for extending an exclusivity agreement by a further six months came in a BBC News item.
“LONG-TERM FUTURE OF PARK CRITICALLY IMPORTANT”
In a press statement headed “Long term future of Crystal Palace park critically important” issued on February 9th Bromley council said that at a meeting earlier that day of the Crystal Palace park executive board, Bromley council leader Cllr Stephen Carr had confirmed that the exclusivity agreement with ZhongRong Group (ZRG) had now expired (1st February).
The council, with the support of GLA, has subsequently written to ZRG giving them 14 calendar days (to 20th February) to agree to a number of financial and business planning-related conditions prior to the council considering the renewal of an exclusivity agreement.
The statement continued: “The park executive board, which is chaired by Cllr Carr and includes senior representation from the GLA and other community stakeholders, will meet again at the end of February to consider ZRG’s response, and if necessary alternative options for the park and its restoration.
“Once this is clarified, the leader of the council is keen to meet with residents and other stakeholders, to report back on progress and seek views on options going forward.
“Any decision to enter into a new exclusivity agreement with ZRG would require formal approval from the council’s executive.”
The statement then quotes Cllr Carr, saying: “We need to reassure local people that we remain resolutely focussed on doing everything we can to improve Crystal Palace park and this must include securing its long term future.
“It would also be wrong to overlook the exciting potential for much needed regeneration in this part of London.
“This is why we have given the ZhongRong Group the opportunity to agree financial and other conditions which include the preparation of a robust and agreed business plan and implementation timetable.
“Now the exclusivity agreement has expired I am happy to confirm that we have written to ZhongRong setting out very clearly what they need to do next.”
A Bromley council spokesman told News From Crystal Palace: “We have nothing to add at the moment but we will seek to clarify in due course”
Further reading: BBC News website ‘- Ultimatum issued to ZhongRong Group over Crystal Palace rebuild plans’ by Tim Donovan Political Editor, BBC London 9 February 2015
For previous News From Crystal Palace stories on this subject please search ‘Crystal Palace park’ and ‘Crystal Palace Park Community Stakeholder Group’