(R.36) Crystal Palace - Archaeology

Submission to Bromley Council prior to the Reserved Matters being heard at the Planning Meeting on 3 Oct 2000

Crystal Palace Campaign - 27 September 2000

Mr Stuart Macmillan
Chief Planner
London Borough of Bromley
Civic Centre
Stockwell Close



Dear Mr Macmillan

Crystal Palace - Archaeology

We wrote to you on the 31 August concerning the reserved matters relating to the development on the top site at Crystal Palace Park.

Apart from a reference by Alan Baxter & Associates to two exploratory trial pits to determine the remains of foundations of the original Palace, have the matters covered by the Department of the Environment, Planning Policy Guidance Archaeology and Planning (PPG16, November 1990) been considered? This document, PPG16, in clause 1

 "sets out the Secretary of State's policy on archaeological remains on land, and how they should be preserved or recorded …"

 it goes on to say, in clause 6, that

"Archaeological remains should be seen as a finite, and non-renewable resource, in many cases highly fragile and vulnerable to damage and destruction. Appropriate management is therefore essential to ensure that they survive in good condition. In particular, care must be taken to ensure that archaeological remains are not needlessly or thoughtlessly destroyed. They can contain irreplaceable information about our past and the potential for an increase in future knowledge. They are part of our sense of national identity and are valuable both for their own sake and for their role in education, leisure and tourism."

The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park and at Sydenham was undoubtedly one of the most influential buildings of the nineteenth century. It has inspired architects and designers all around the world since it opened its doors in 1851 first for the Great Exhibition and later, at Sydenham Hill, for general use. The most recently restored example of a building having been inspired by the Crystal Palace is the magnificent Floral Hall at Covent Garden built originally by Edward Middleton Barry in 1857-8.

A recent letter written by the Chairman of the Crystal Palace Foundation, Melvyn Harrison, outlined the "sub-surface history" of the top site and provided ample evidence to show that there is a wealth of material pertaining to the Crystal Palace beneath the site of the proposed development. We would ask if studies relating to the site have been published e.g. a detailed archaeological brief by English Heritage and whether discussions have been held with the spectrum of interested parties. Further, we would like to know what plans Bromley Council has to investigate and preserve the site archaeology before the development takes place. Have, for example, the Museum of London Archaeology Service been consulted? They have great expertise in this area and, amongst other capabilities; they carry out excavations "from small-scale trenching to very large open area excavations".

PPG16 states that:

"… the key to the future of the great majority of archaeological sites and historic landscapes lies with local authorities … Appropriate planning policies in development plans and their implementation through development control will be especially important."

We take the view that Bromley Council would be failing in its duty if the development were to go ahead without any consideration of these matters both in the light of the letter and spirit of PPG16 and in the interest in Crystal Palace shown by thousands of local residents, local amenity societies and many people around the world interested in Victorian architecture.

We trust that Bromley will define how observers during the excavations are to be nominated and will afford them every opportunity of access to the site both during the excavations and, preferably, before building begins. Indeed we would expect this approach even if the building does not go ahead.


Yours sincerely,


K R Lewington

Crystal Palace Campaign

Please reply to: Hon Secretary, Crystal Palace Campaign
33 Hogarth Court, Fountain Drive, London SE19 1UY Telephone/Fax: 020 8670 8486
E-mail: VA.Day@ukgateway.net Campaign Website: www.crystal.dircon.co.uk
Associate Member The London Forum of Amenity and Civic Societies

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