Bromley Unitary Development Plan

Proof of Philip Kolvin

Crystal Palace Park

Crystal Palace Campaign

Section 6

"Now, sadly, change and decay is all around.
Toppling bandstands, gutted fountains,
paddling pools like swamps, smashed
glasshouses and petless pets' corners"

Leslie Thomas




After the commercial failure of the Crystal Palace Company, there was an issue as to the future holding of the Park. By virtue of the Local Authority Contributions (Crystal Palace) Act 1913, certain authorities and individuals contributed to the cost of acquisition of the Park. By the Crystal Palace Act 1914, a body of trustees was constituted for the purpose of acquiring the Park and managing it as a "place for education and recreation and for the promotion of industry, commerce and art". The trustees came from the corporation of the City of London together with various other local authorities. In other words, from 1914, the Park was held on a statutory trust.


By the London County Council (Crystal Palace) Act 1951, the Park vested in the London County Council, again as a "place for education and recreation and for the promotion of industry, commerce and art". The Second Schedule saved from repeal certain parts of the 1914 Act, including those parts providing for use of the Park. These were essentially to replicate the aspirations of the original Palace. So for example, they were empowered to:

  • maintain, alter, extend and repair the Palace;
  • improve and extend the park;
  • maintain grounds for games, sports, amusements and meetings, assemblies, lakes and spaces for military drills[19] and exercise;
  • construct buildings in lieu of or in addition to the Palace;
  • let the Park and Palace for the purposes of a library, exhibition, show or display or any club or entertainment, or recreation, sport or amusement, or stalls or shops or for public utility, instruction or benefit;
  • provide educational institutions in the park;
  • purchase and hire works of art etc.


By 1990, there was a proposal for an hotel development, as mentioned above. It was considered that the proposal was not within the 1951 Act, so a new Act of Parliament was needed. This resulted in the Bromley London Borough Council (Crystal Palace) Act 1990. That Act granted the right to dispose of the land for the purpose of an hotel, restaurant, shops, licensed premises, leisure facilities, entertainment facilities or other associated uses.[20] Section 4 required that any building on the top site reflect the architectural style of the Palace, while an undertaking was given to Parliament by Bromley that "the Council shall require that the building should contain a predominance of glass and metal or similar materials and that the building should reflect the spirit of the original Crystal Palace".


It is very important to note that the Act was not a planning Act. It did not purport to predetermine any of the planning arguments as to designation or use of the site. Bromley's Counsel, Christopher Lockhart-Mummery QC emphasised to the House of Commons Private Bill Committee:

"…. that the Bill does not over-ride or detract from other controls which will apply to a development of this nature.… The applications, for example, have sought under the building regulations, planning licensing or highway legislation will be applied for and considered in the normal way (sic). Under the relevant legislation there will be the customary opportunity for public consultation and objections to be considered."[21]


Therefore, nothing in such pre-existing legislation ought materially to influence the future designation of this Park.

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[19] - The Park was a naval depot during World War I.
[20]- Appendix 13.
[21] - House of Commons, 17.5.89, minutes of evidence page 45.

©Philip Kolvin