by Natasha Holt, South London Press, 15 May 2001
photograph by Maurice Gordon

What they said...

Chairman of the Crystal Palace Campaign, Philip Kolvin, said: "Bromley's capitulation is a victory for the local community - a tribute to the tens of thousands of people who stood together for what they knew to be right in the face of aggression and greed. I want Crystal palace to stand as a symbol of what can be achieved when ordinary people unite. Let it be a lesson to those, be they councils or corporations, who believe they can ignore the human race."

Paul de Zylva, campaigns co-ordinator of Friends of the Earth London, said: "The loss of the developer is a hammer-blow. Now Bromley must change its plans for grotesque car parks, transport turmoil and bowling alleys. It will be a tall order for them but with sensitivity and imagination, and for once listening to what people really want, they could do it."

Tessa Jowell, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood said: "This was the wrong development in the wrong place which no one wanted. The Crystal Palace campaign has earned the congratulations and gratitude of thousands of local people."

Dulwich and West Norwood Conservative candidate, Nicholas Vineall said: "I congratulate the Crystal palace Campaign on this victory for common sense. My position has always been complete opposition to the multiplex development. I will continue to oppose unsuitable development at the site and on all our open spaces."

It's a 'victory for common sense'.

THE controversial plan to build a multiplex cinema in the historic Crystal Palace Park sensationally collapsed on Friday.

In a move that stunned residents and protesters, Bromley council announced its intention to terminate the agreement it had with developers London and Regional Properties to build the £58 million development.

The authority blamed the developers for failing to complete the lease in the required time and is now seeking legal advice on the decision.

The developer had to fulfil a number of requirements to ensure the lease on the land was settled by a deadline - and failed to do so.

Legal advice will determine whether the authority will take court action.


A joint statement issued by party leaders Councillor Chris Maines, Councillor John; Holbrook and Councillor Michael Tickner said: "We are extremely disappointed that we have to take this step which will mean that the leisure amenities and the hundreds of jobs they would have generated will not now be realised."

Philip Kolvin, chairman of The Crystal Palace Campaign said: "Bromley's capitulation is a victory for the local community."

Single mother Diane Barker, who waged a one-woman court battle on Bromley council was overwhelmed by the news saying "I can't believe it. I'm absolutely over the moon."

And Crystal Palace Protest member Sue Nagle told the South London Press "It's incredible, it's amazing and we're all so happy."

MPs also joined the celebrations and Darren Johnson, environmental advisor to London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, urged caution over future proposals for the historic site.

He said: "Now I hope there can be a proper open debate on the future of the site."

Now residents are keen to ensure that their views are taken into account in future.

Martin Heath, chairman of The Wildlife Group insisted: "This area must be left for wildlife and to provide an open space for local people."

The Crystal Palace Campaign is now urging the GLA, the five surrounding local authorities and residents to join together to plan a sustainable plan for the park.

London and Regional Properties refused to comment on the situation.

How the Campaign Progressed...

1991: The controversial plans to build a £25 million new Crystal Palace were first unveiled in August 1991. The original scheme, drawn up by developers THI, was for a steel and glass hotel and leisure complex including a cinema, bowling centre, restaurants, a theme pub and a night club. After four years of hurdles and setbacks the scheme collapsed.

1996: The plan was resurrected in 1996 by developer London and Regional Properties who designed a scheme which residents said looked more like a 'toilet block' than the former Crystal Palace. Opposition to the plan emerged during the public consultation period and The Crystal Palace Campaign and Crystal Palace Protest were born. Many MPs and councillors also opposed the plans.

1997: Bromley council granted outline planning permission for the multiplex. Environment Secretary John Prescott approved the development.

1998: Eco-warriors moved onto the site in April living in an elaborate system of tree houses and tunnels. After a year-long struggle they were evicted, leaving Bromley council with a £2.7m bill.

1999: In July 1999, single mum Diane Barker took the extraordinary step of launching a single-handed High Court battle against Bromley Council. In the same year, cinema giants UCI decided to become involved in the scheme.

2000: 197 trees were axed. In October, Bromley voted through the outstanding detail of the scheme. Diane Barker's case was overturned but she lodged an appeal which was accepted in 2001. The European Commission sent a formal notice to the UK Government due to its failure to carry out an environmental impact assessment.

2001: The scheme collapses, due to the failure of the developers to complete the lease in time.

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2/6/01 Last updated 2/6/01