(P.56) Mayor labels cinema plans "cheapskate"

Nino Williams, Croydon Guardian 26 October 2000

Ken Livingstone has launched a scathing attack on plans for the multiplex development at Crystal Palace Park, branding them "cheapskate".

Speaking at last week's GLA Question Time, Mayor Livingstone said he was implacably opposed to the development and threw his weight behind the opposition campaigners.

He described the application made by London and Regional Properties (L&RP) for 14 separate liquor licences as beginning "to sound suspiciously like the worst aspects of living in Soho".

And speaking about apparent design changes following the departure of the original architect Ian Ritchie, the mayor said: "As soon as planning permission has been agreed, they get involved in something much more cheapskate, a cut price operation... I think people have been cheated by Bromley Council and the developer."

Mayor Livingstone also disclosed he had considered challenging Bromley's planning approval for the site but legal advice had persuaded him a challenge would be unsuccessful - something he "deeply regretted".

Although Mr Livingstone has no legislative power to overturn Bromley's decision, his comments have boosted campaigners.

Fred Emery, spokesman for the Crystal Palace Campaign, said: "We welcome the mayor's formal support for our next push to halt not just the licences but the multiplex in any shape or form.

"Bromley knows that were it to apply today for planning permission it would be rejected by the mayor. Bromley relies solely on having been granted permission before the mayor took office."

Bromley Council denied the design had been dumbed down.

"Ian Ritchie has designed a landmark building for the site which has been accepted by the Royal Fine Arts Commission and English Heritage," said a Bromley Council spokesman.

"Architects RHWL will be building Ian Ritchie's design* to the highest quality. Bromley Council has undertaken extensive public consultation throughout the process."

Developers L&RP declined to comment.

*Ed. note: at least one major aspect has changed - the gabion walls have been replaced by a 'simpler' facade.

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