(P.82) Four-year campaign ends in celebrations as contract terminated

MULTIPLEX PLAN IS BURIED - Croydon Guardian 17 May 2001

by Joanne Parkes and Nino Williams
photograph by Photopress (not included - similar to

Campaigners in the north of the borough were this week celebrating the end of a bitter and exhausting four-year battle after the shock announcement that the controversial leisure development in Crystal Palace Park was being dropped.

Building of the complex was due to begin in October, despite criticism of the planning application from the European Commission and opposition from thousands of residents and demonstrators.

Bromley Council had been resolute in its defence of the project until last Friday, when it announced it was terminating its agreement with developers London and Regional Properties (L&R) because it claims L&R did not keep to the time period agreed in the lease.

So days after the local football team were saved from relegation at the eleventh hour, the community was celebrating another great escape.

The surprise was greeted with delight by campaigners, whose opposition to the development has taken them to the High Court and received the backing of London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

There was also an expensive eviction by Bromley against eco-warriors who occupied underground tunnels in protest at the plans, which included a 20-screen cinema, restaurants, bars and a bowling alley.

Philip Kolvin, chairman of the Crystal Palace Campaign which has spearheaded the dissent, said he thought Bromley's capitulation was a victory for the local community, a tribute to the tens of thousands of people who stood together against aggression and greed.

"I want Crystal Palace to stand as a symbol of what can be achieved when ordinary people unite," he said.

Croydon North MP Malcolm Wicks said the council now has necessary breathing space for consultation and suggested a design competition to get ideas flowing.

He said: :We need an architecturally fine building in keeping with the site, perhaps containing a museum or an art gallery, but we need to address a whole spectrum of interests to make the new building a focal point everyone is proud of."

Croydon North Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate Simon Allison said he thought the announcement would mean a significant weight off the minds of Upper Norwood residents.

He said that losing the predicted economic benefits of the development would be outweighed by other benefits relating to the appearance of the park and congestion at The Upper Norwood Triangle - which is already a big problem.

A cross-party statement by Bromley Council said: "We are disappointed that we have to take this step. It will mean the hundreds of jobs the development would have generated will not now be realised, despite the fact that none of the legal challenges against the council's actions in granting planning permission for the development have been upheld.''

Bromley is now considering its legal position and it was claimed this week that an investigation into the cost of the scheme by the District Auditor may follow.

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