(R109) Crystal Palace Campaign Newsletter - 27 July 2006

This update marks a point in time which is significant in the regeneration of Crystal Palace Park.

Master Planner Selected

Two community representatives, Ray Sacks (Crystal Palace Campaign Chairman) and Jon Dickenson, were voted by the Park Working Group to participate in the selection of the Master Planner. The full selection team consisted of ten people, including representatives from the LDA, GLA, English Heritage, and others.  It met on the 26th and 27th July (2006) at the offices of an outside agency.

The job of the Master Planner, working for the LDA, is to produce a planning document to define the regeneration of the whole Park based on the background work contained in:

and on future consultations to be conducted by the Master Planning Team.

The regeneration proposed in the Planning Framework are only outlines of what will be done.  The details will become more focused in the hands of the Master Planner.  The Master Planner may go on to execute the plan itself.

Amongst the 20 teams who responded to the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire were many excellent candidates (from Europe, the UK and the USA) from whom the 'winning team' has been picked.  The formal announcement will be made by the LDA in the course of the next week or so.

There are many important issues for the Master Planner to deal with not the least of which is the sustainability of the proposals.  It is essential to the success of any scheme that proper financial provision for the future be made.

A final word - the candidates produced a high standard of information in their submissions and presentations and were greatly excited about the prospects for regenerating Crystal Palace Park.  They showed considerable understanding of the many problems of regeneration but also an appreciation of the Park's potential and a range of imaginative solutions.  The announcement of the selected Master Planner will herald an exciting and constructive period leading up to the final Master Plan due next year (2007).

Residential Properties

There has been some publicity recently concerning the "sell-off" of Park land for residential use.  This needs to be put in context since the impression seems to have been given that the Park will be over-run.  This is not so. Housing was first put on to the Park to raise funds for the struggling Crystal Palace Company in the 1870s.  This was on land around the perimeter of the Park and forms what is an important part of the Park boundary.  Nothing further was done until the National Sports Centre (NSC) was built with its associated residential provision.  The new residential proposals in the "Planning Framework" are largely placed alongside some houses already existing in the perimeter zones.  The exception is at the Rockhills corner which is, in fact, an area of the park which has never been open to the public.  It was the area where Joseph Paxton lived and it is now the caravan site.

Here are some actual dimensions to put the residential proposals in context:

Current proposals are as follows:

For comparison:

The overall net gain of land to become accessible to Park users, after all the Planning Framework changes are taken into account, is about 10 hectares.  The values will become more precisely defined as the Master Planner process proceeds.

Sports Centre

The change in priorities with regard to sport in the Park are due to new thinking by the London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, about sports provision in general in the context of the 2012 Olympics. This was announced at the last Park Working Group and in a press release from the LDA (18 July 2006 - appended below).  

The original intention, indicated in the Planning Framework, was to build a new sports centre while keeping the old one open.  This would have ensured that all the sports in the NSC building would be available, uninterrupted, but that the athletics stadium would need to shut down for about two years for refurbishment.  This was thought to be unacceptable in the run up to the Games.

The new proposals will keep all sports available until after the Olympic Games.  If there are problems with the old plant, there are means planned to keep the sports provision (particularly swimming) at the NSC going.  In fact this would be no different from the original plan since the old NSC would have had to have run continuously in parallel with the building of the new centre.

This plan, which has really only been recently considered by the stakeholders, is a matter which will attract more debate in the Park Working Group at its next meeting on 31 July.  There is, of course, some disappointment because of the delay in the building of the new sports centre.  However, it will mean that improvements in the Park itself will take place sooner than originally planned.  It is slightly ironic that the Olympic Games, which certainly played a role in saving the NSC from being completely shut down in March 2004, will now serve to delay the process of building a new one. 

Nevertheless, the magnificent Youth Games and the London Grand Prix will now be able to continue at Crystal Palace until the Olympic Games have ended.  Hopefully some of Britain's Olympic medal winners will come from the eager participants in the Crystal Palace events.

Ray Sacks
Crystal Palace Campaign


Appendix - London Development Agency news- 18 July 2006

LDA secures future of swimming and athletics at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre

18 Jul 2006

The London Development Agency today announced that swimming and athletics events will continue to be staged in Crystal Palace Park to 2012 and beyond. This follows a decision by the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone that major sporting events such as the athletics Grand Prix and the London Youth Games should continue at this world famous venue until at least 2012.

The London Development Agency will retain the existing National Sports Centre building and maintain the athletics stadium in its current structure and then build a new sports centre and reconfigure the stadium after 2012.

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said:

"The history of the Crystal Palace athletics and sports centre has played a pivotal role over the decades in inspiring not only home bred world class athletes but people from all walks of life to take up sport. I have always said I want to ensure we retain these valuable facilities not only for use by our 2012 medal hopefuls but also by all Londoners and these plans would secure a great future for this world famous sporting landmark."

The Mayor of London and the LDA rescued the park's sports facilities with Sport England in 2004. The London Development Agency then took responsibility for the swimming pool and athletics facilities at the National Sports Centre in March 2006. However, at over 40 years old, the pool's machinery and equipment is nearing the end of its operational life. The London Development Agency is therefore looking at ways to keep swimming in the Park. This includes an option to replace the machinery, pumps and other equipment. However given the age and design of the National Sports Centre, this may not be feasible.

A second option could be to build a new 'temporary' Olympic-sized swimming pool close to the athletics stadium which could be open as soon as August 2007. 'Temporary' pools have been used for competitions in the US, and such pools have a long operational life. Once the new pool opens, the LDA could then convert the current swimming facilities into a dry sports area - for indoor athletics and other indoor sports. The other sports facilities in the NSC such as the outdoor athletics stadium would remain open for major athletics events until the 2012 Olympics when major national and international events will transfer to the new Olympic stadium in Stratford.

Alongside these works, the LDA will reclaim and clean the space around the NSC building removing much of the concrete and surplus building structures creating more open green space in the centre of Crystal Palace Park. The schedule for this green space reclamation will be determined by which option is chosen to secure swimming in the Park between now and 2012.


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