December 2003




Objection References:
0296C, E, I, J, 0, P, U, V
0297C, E, I, J, O, P U, V
20062 E, F
20084 E, F

















Top of Page;

Abbreviations - see


The possibilities dormant in the modern civilization we have created have never since been so clearly expressed.

Siegfried Giedion, 1936




Bromley has now served evidence in relation to Proposal Sites 8 and 9, consisting of two proofs of evidence by Mr. Peter Martin. This follows proposed modifications to the UDP arising from a meeting of its Executive on 17th November 2003 as ratified by the Full Council on 1st December 2003. Correspondence on the subject is at Appendix 42. I have not been shown the officers' report to the Executive which preceded these proposals. I have been shown a very brief minute of the Executive resolving to retain the MOL designation for Site 9 (Mr. Martin's Appendix 1). I have also seen some proposed new commentary amounting to a strategic statement for the Park (Mr. Martin's Appendix 3) but have seen no evidence that this specific wording has been approved by any relevant committee. Bromley's evidence has been served late, such that I have not been able to share this rebuttal proof with those groups whom I represent. However, I have shared Bromley's proposed wording changes with those groups, and our response is at Appendix 44.


Bromley has not apparently responded to the contents of my proof of evidence, and so I say no more about that.


Further, Bromley has served no evidence at all regarding our objections to the Chapter 6 policies, as detailed in section 18 of my proof of evidence. This is despite the fact that the hearing of 6th January 2003 is programmed to deal with those objections. I note from page 2 of Mr. Martin's proof that there should be proofs that deal with policies BE11 and BE14 but he has not served them on me or the Campaign, and they are not on Bromley's web-site.



Site 9: top site


Bromley has accepted that there is no justification for removing the MOL designation of the top site, and that therefore the MOL designation should remain (Mr. Martin's proof, para 14).


Bromley also accepts that any planning applications for inappropriate development should not be in accord with the plan, so as to comply with PPG2 (Mr. Martin's proof, para 5).


Notwithstanding that, Mr. Martin has proposed commentary in a new paragraph 3.7a (Appendix 3 of his proof) that states: "Future development on the site of the former Crystal Palace is supported in principle provided it complies with the Crystal Palace Act 1990 and reflects the site's importance as the previous location of a landmark building."


There are a great many objections to that approach:

  1. All the reasons for objecting to the removal of the MOL designation set out in my original proof of evidence continue to apply. I do not repeat them here.
  2. An MOL designation eschews substantial built form, while the commentary supports it. This creates an absurdity, and one which is liable to create a recipe for future conflict. Such inconsistency is contrary to the guidance in PPG12 Annex A paragraph 24.
  3. As Mr. Martin accepts (para 16) the "very special circumstances" test would govern future applications for built development. It should not be diluted, let alone confused, by contradictory commentary.
  4. As Mr. Martin further points out (para 5), national guidance states that planning applications for inappropriate development should be contrary to the Plan. The proposed commentary flouts the guidance, for two reasons. First, it says nothing about the Metropolitan Open Land status of the site. Second, it is apparently supportive of built development.
  5. The reference to the Crystal Palace Act 1990 does not resolve the issue. As I have previously explained1, the Act was not a planning Act, and Bromley expressly told Parliament that it neither over-rode nor detracted from planning controls. The Act preceded the equation of MOL with Green Belt by RPG3, and also preceded the development of thinking over the last decade regarding the importance of the retention of urban open space. Compliance with the Act was considered, by Bromley, to justify a building the size of two football stadia laid end to end with parking for 1,000 cars on its roof. I do not believe that any sensible person would think this consistent with an MOL designation. The Act is not therefore a proper substitute for an appropriate policy designation and treatment of the Park in this Unitary Development Plan.
  6. Nor does Mr. Martin's proposed text stating that proposals will be brought forward in consultation with local people resolve the problem. The issue is one of appropriate designation and description, not whether local people are consulted on the development proposal. In any event, the only thorough-going exercise in local consultation has shown that local people want a parkland designation for the top site.2 It is regrettable that Bromley has an extremely poor record of consultation with local people over Crystal Palace and a worse record of acting on such consultation. Reflecting local feeling, the MOL designation of the site should not be diluted with contradictory commentary. To suggest that development is supported in principle is in fact to ignore previous consultation and pre-empt the results of further consultation.
  7. Bromley's formal position, set out in the minutes of the Executive meeting (Appendix 1 of Mr. Martin's proof) is simply that MOL should be retained. I have seen no evidence that the Council has formally approved the wording suggested by Mr. Martin. It is to be hoped that it will give the matter further consideration in early course.


Finally, Mr. Martin refers to the Crystal Palace Park dialogue process, and the fact that proposals, including built proposals, have been put forward. I am familiar with this process, having conceived of it, conducted the diplomatic exercise involved in getting Bromley and others to attend it, selected the facilitator and (through the Campaign) financed and implemented the first meeting. As I have previously stated3, none of the stakeholders attending the meeting supports interference with the MOL designation of the top site. The fact that a handful of individuals have emerged with proposals which would compromise the openness of the top site cannot be taken as general support for compromising its future as open parkland. The Campaign's thorough-going consultation exercise has revealed a strong desire that the future of the site should be managed parkland or an ecology park. It is correct that a series of criteria has emerged from the workshop, but the criteria are not weighted. From my attendance at the workshop, I can only say that the criteria regarding openness are regarded as of great importance by nearly all participants.



Strategic statement


In section 16 of my proof, I set out why I believe it essential to include a strategic statement regarding the Park in the UDP. It now appears that Bromley has conceded that it is appropriate to have such a statement and that it should be placed in Part I of the UDP, in fact in a new para 3.7(a) of the Plan.


Mr. Martin's wording is welcome in recognizing the regional significance of the Park, the importance of consultation, and the historic significance of the site. However, it falls well short of what is required by failing to refer to the site's statutory and non-statutory designations (including MOL), by promoting development on the top site, and by failing to set out any objectives which should underpin the Park's regeneration.


We have set out proposed wording in response, in Appendix 44 hereto. This is a modest amendment of that originally proposed in section 16 of my proof, in order to respond to recent developments.



Site 8: National Sports Centre


Mr. Martin indicates that the existing Sports Centre needs major refurbishment. I agree, and have always been maximally supportive of a sustainable regeneration of the Sports Centre. I was in fact responsible for drafting a statement for the Strategic Working Group to assist Bromley in its discussions with funding/sporting bodies regarding the proposed regeneration. I was prepared to do this on the basis that the proposals involved demolition of the central walkway and all built form to the north of it, so as to open up the Park, and subject to sight of the actual design proposals, which Bromley have not hitherto revealed, if they exist.


He states that there has been some confusion in the community as to the nature and purpose of an MDS designation. I agree with him, but the confusion has not extended to me. The concerns of myself and those whom I represent have been that the boundaries are drawn too widely, that the proposals lack transparency and that there needs to be strict criteria to guide future schemes. None of those concerns is allayed by knowledge that there is a nascent scheme for redevelopment of the site.


Mr. Martin states that new wording is shown in his Appendix 8. His proof does not contain such an Appendix, but I am taking it that the wording he relies on is shown in Appendix 3 of his proof regarding Site 9.


The initiative that we might agree to an MDS designation of the NSC subject to appropriate safeguards and criteria came from me, and I am pleased to see that Bromley have strengthened reference to Appendix C PPG2 criteria.


Unfortunately, the wording proposed by Bromley does not go nearly far enough. First, there are no criteria set out in an actual UDP policy, rather than merely in general text. Furthermore, any such criteria need to do more than reflect the terms of Appendix C of PPG2, given the multiple sensitivities of this historic park. For example, one of the proposals currently being considered is that there might be an indoor tennis centre. Such buildings are notoriously utilitarian shed-like structures, which would be at odds with a landscape of this historic importance. Further, it would be essential to stipulate that proposed uses of the new building would be sporting ones. Finally, one of the main purposes of the proposed regeneration is to open up the heart of the Park. While Bromley has publicly stated that its proposals will remove buildings north of the central axis, the proposed MDS boundary takes in playing fields to the north of the National Sports Centre, which is unjustifiable and unexplained. The Plan should make plain that the objective is to open up the heart of the Park rather than the converse.


With this in mind, we proffer a new policy G2A together with some new text at paragraphs 3.7a and 8.18a, as set out at Appendix 44 hereto. If those suggestions are incorporated into the Plan, we are prepared to withdraw the objection to the designation of the NSC as MDS. Failing such incorporation, we remain of the view that the best safeguard for the site is to leave it simply as MOL, so that any development proposals are tested against the requirement to show very special circumstances.



Philip Kolvin
December 2003

©Philip Kolvin


42. Correspondence with London Borough of Bromley regarding proposed modifications

43. Minutes of Meeting of Executive of London Borough of Bromley, 17 November 2003

44. Campaign's response to Bromley's proposed modifications

Go to Appendices; Go to Contents; Go to Legal Index