After 6 years of work, the Crystal Palace Campaign has hailed its most important victory, as Bromley Council withdrew its proposal to earmark the hill-top at Crystal Palace Park for commercial leisure. The site, which is the highest tree-lined ridge in London, will now be designated as "Metropolitan Open Land." The Council's withdrawal was the result of settlement discussions initiated by the Crystal Palace Campaign in October.

In 2001, the Campaign succeeded in its first objective by defeating proposals to build a giant multiplex cinema on the site of the former Crystal Palace.

But the battle continued as Bromley designated the site in its Unitary Development Plan for commercial leisure uses, which could have included another multiplex cinema, bowling alley or amusement arcades.

The Campaign organised huge resistance by calling a public meeting and publishing a newsletter asking local people to object to the proposal. It also wrote a form of objection, which was subsequently copied by other groups and hundreds of local individuals. Objectors included the Rt. Hon. Tessa Jowell MP, Greater London Authority members, local councillors, the Government Office for London and the Greater London Authority itself.

The fight was set for a public inquiry on 6th January 2004, to be conducted by an Inspector appointed by John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister. The Campaign submitted a 400 page dossier of evidence on behalf of itself, five other groups (the Dulwich, Sydenham and Norwood Societies, the Crystal Palace Foundation and a local residents association) and dozens of individuals. But on 1st December, at a meeting of the full Council held in private, the Council accepted a recommendation from its Chief Planner that it should back down. On 8th December, the Council's Head of Heritage and Urban Design, Peter Martin, wrote to the Campaign Chairman Philip Kolvin with the news.

The effect of the Metropolitan Open Land designation is that no built form will be allowed on the hill top except in very special circumstances, and any proposal will need to be referred to the London Mayor for decision.

This dramatic settlement also involved Bromley writing extra rules into the Unitary Development Plan guaranteeing that any regeneration proposals for the National Sports Centre improve the openness of the Park and reduce the area of building on the site, so increasing its parkland ambience.

Philip Kolvin, a planning barrister who has acted for nothing throughout, said:

"We have achieved this remarkable result by our usual methods of hard work, professionalism, respect for the opposition, levering in local support and consensus-building. I congratulate Bromley for responding so positively to our suggestions. We are deeply satisfied at the outcome. Most local people believe that the hill-top at Crystal Palace Park should be a park. This result ensures that it will remain one for at least a generation."

Now, the parties will hammer out the detailed wording of the revised Plan, failing which any outstanding issues will be heard at the Inquiry on 6th January 2004 at the Salvation Army Hall, Westow Street, Upper Norwood at 10 a.m.

Notes for Editors:

1. The Campaign has publicised the objection to the Unitary Development Plan through its web-site, which has now had 59,000 hits.
2. The Campaign conducted research of 40,000 households, which showed 83% support for an open parkland option for the hill-top site.
3. The Campaign was also responsible for establishing a stakeholders' forum for Crystal Palace Park, which is ongoing.
4. The European Commission is suing the UK Government over the handling of the multiplex planning application, on a complaint brought by the Crystal Palace Campaign. If the case succeeds, there will be a fundamental alteration in UK planning law relating to environmental assessment.
5. Further details of all of the above can be found on our web-site: www.crystal.dircon.co.uk


Press Officer: Fred Emery &endash; Press Liaison: 020 8670 8486
All correspondence to: Hon Secretary, 33 Hogarth Court, Fountain Drive, London SE19 1UY
E-mail: VA.Day@ukgateway.net Campaign Website: www.crystal.dircon.co.uk

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10/12/03 Last updated 10/12/03