(P.74) I'll block multiplex, says Ken

Croydon Advertiser, 3 November 2000

Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, put the controversial Crystal Palace park multiplex proposals at the top of his agenda for his first 'people's question time' last week.

He sent out a warning to Bromley Council and developers London and Regional that if approval for any changes in the plans was needed he would block it.

Speaking at Central Hall, in Westminster, he told 500 members of the public: "If there's a chance that changes to the plans could give the chance to overturn it, we will do so."

And he promised to defend to the hilt London's remaining green spaces.

He also described the developers application for 14 separate liquor licenses on the site as ''the worst aspects of living in Soho".

And said he was angry that the developer had gained planning permission using award winning architect Ian Ritchie and then replaced him with someone cheaper.

He said: "Very often the developer will get a good, well-respected architect to put in their planning application.

"Once they've got planning permission they then go for someone cheaper and downgrade the development. That's exactly what happened at Crystal Palace."

Mr Ritchie was vital in helping the developer get permission for the multiplex. His design was accepted by English Heritage as a worthy successor to Thomas Paxton's original Crystal Palace.

However, Mr Ritchie left the project under a cloud last month and has now washed his hands of it. Bromley chief planner, Stuart Macmillan, confirmed earlier this month that changes to the buildings granite facade were "cheaper and more sustainable" than Mr Ritchie's original design.

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2/2/01 Last updated 2/2/01