Bromley Unitary Development Plan

Proof of Philip Kolvin

Crystal Palace Park

Crystal Palace Campaign

Section 16

When the vast edifice reflects the rays of the sun, it sends forth millions of coruscations, and forms an object of surpassing brilliance.



Strategic statement (0296C, 0297C, 0296E, 0297E)


The Campaign wishes to see some broad objectives for the Park to be established in the Unitary Development Plan. It has suggested the following wording:

Crystal Palace Park and environs objectives


To maintain and enhance the role of Crystal Palace Park as the principal strategic park for south-east London.


To recognise the high value placed by local people upon Crystal Palace Park as open parkland.


To respect the historic importance of the site of the Crystal Palace.


To preserve and enhance the listed terraces, the listed subway under Crystal Palace Parade and other heritage features of the Park.


To ensure that any development proposal for the site accords with the status of the Park as Metropolitan Open Land, a listed historic park and a Conservation Area.


To protect the residential environs of the Park.


To improve the facilities offered by the National Sports Centre, so far as consistent with its status as Metropolitan Open land.

Crystal Palace Park is the principal strategic park for south-east London, and is highly valued by local people as a place for parkland recreation. The Park was also the site of the Crystal Palace from 1854 to 1936, and the Park contains important features associated with that era, including the geological time trail, the dinosaurs, terraces, statuary and a subway. The Crystal Palace museum is an important historical and educational facility regarding the Crystal Palace. The Park is Metropolitan Open Land and is listed as Grade II* on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Most of the Park is a Conservation Area. There is strong community commitment to preserving the Park both as open parkland and an historic park, and to preventing substantial new development upon it.

The National Sports Centre requires refurbishment. This may be achieved without the need for significant new building. Any refurbishment should include commitment to reducing parking, reducing the non-sporting buildings and removing unnecessary areas of hard-standing.

The Park is surrounded by residents of five boroughs, and its future should be planned with the full participation of the local community and the neighbouring boroughs. While regeneration of certain areas near to the Park is a desirable objective, this should not be attained at the expense of the Park itself. An environmentally sensitive treatment of the Park will itself produce regeneration benefits, being an attractor of neighbouring business and residential uses.


The wording is intended to make a statement regarding the Park's importance on a number of levels. First, it is a national heritage asset. Second it is of national importance as a sporting asset, albeit in a declining facility. Thirdly, it is an important open space for Londoners, being the only Grade II* listed park in South East London. Fourthly, it is a highly prized local resource, which the community has striven very hard to maintain. It is a complex park, which has suffered from neglect and fragmentation in the past. The opportunity should now be taken to include broad guidance for its future regeneration. To fail to do so is to waste an opportunity.


Bromley has elected to make no statement about the Park in the Plan, save a passing reference in paragraph 3.7, and of course the site designations for the top site and the National Sports Centre, neither of which reflect the open space or heritage values of the Park. A Park of this importance frankly deserves something by way of reference, if not guidance and leadership, in the statutory plan for the Borough.


Bromley's reasons for not making such a statement are that the future of the Park is protected by the policies in the Plan and that objectives should not be set out for one specific site. This does not stand up to scrutiny. First, the Green Book itself makes it clear that development plans may make proposals for specific sites, and of course they frequently do. Second, what is suggested is not a development proposal but some clear guidance for future development proposals for what is an extremely important site. Third, the 1994 UDP did include a strategic statement for Crystal Palace (page 54). The change of tack between that Plan and this is inexplicable. Fourth, even in this Plan, Bromley include strategic statements, for example in relation to Biggin Hill Airport (see Second Draft UDP page 17) and Ravensbourne College (Pre-Inquiry changes para 8.18b). Most strikingly, text is included in relation to the National Sports Centre - see para 8.18a of Second Deposit Draft. Given the recent history of conflict regarding this Park, which has spawned many legal actions, tens of thousands of hours of community and local government time and millions of wasted pounds, the opportunity should now be taken to set out a broad list of parameters, along the lines of those I suggest above. I am not aware that Bromley actually objects to any of them, rather than to the principle of having them in the Plan. If the objection is as to the principle of its inclusion rather than its content, I would submit that the development plan is an intrinsically appropriate location to reassert the guiding principles in relation to this strategic park. If the objection is that it belongs in Part II of the Plan rather than Part I, I would observe that Biggin Hill's guidance is in Part I, but if it is thought that it belongs better in Part II, I would not oppose that.


As a subsidiary matter, paragraph 3.7 introduces Crystal Palace Park by a sidewind, which the Council has signalled it wishes to maintain. I would argue that if the Park is worth dealing with, it is worth dealing with it properly, by recognising its special status for Londoners and the nation.

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