Report on the LDA

Public Consultation Exercise (Nov 2004) - Section A

A. Future of the park - CONTENTS

  1. Overall Vision for the park
  2. Levels of intervention in the park
  3. Features and facilities
  4. The hilltop area
  5. The Terraces
  6. A new Crystal Palace?
  7. Day to day management
  8. Events
  9. Roads and parking
  10. Public transport links
  11. Outside the park
  12. Future governance and ownership
  13. Funding
  14. Commercial/non-park related development
  15. Conclusions on park responses



A.1 Overall Vision for the Park (224) 

A need to focus particularly on children and families emerged here, although other user groups were also mentioned. 

Dissatisfaction with the current state of the park was clear and general design principles clearly highlighted the need to retain the park primarily as green open space and a place of tranquillity. However, emphasis was also placed on its historic value and many people thought it should be something with a "wow!" factor that would excite the imagination.

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A.2 Levels of Intervention in the Park (537)

The comments in this section are those which relate directly to the four possible levels of intervention cited in the consultation. Many other, more specific, comments have been re-allocated to other headings in the report.

2.1 Extensive Improvements (133)

This level of intervention attracted by far the greatest level of support, with many believing it to be "the only real option", "cost effective" and "worth it in the long run". However, although very few expressed outright dislike, some were concerned about the level of commercial development that might be required, the length of time parts of the park might be closed for works and other possible adverse impacts.

2.2 Moderate Improvements (92)

This approach was less favourably viewed than "extensive improvements", but still had many more supporters than detractors. Some felt that it would be sufficient but at the same time would avoid a too-radical change in the nature of the park. However, some fears about more fundamental changes began to emerge at this level, as did a degree of scepticism about the chances of ever achieving more. A smaller number felt it was insufficient.

2.3 Basic Tidy-Up (84)

This option attracted less interest and the majority of those who commented thought it inadequate and too short term.

2.4 Status Quo (228)

This approach was the least popular of the four presented. Few supported it and a large majority were actively opposed, quoting "lack of vision", "missed opportunity", "uninspiring", "park needs more" and similar comments.

2.5 Conclusions to "Levels of Intervention"

There is a clear pattern in the responses to possible intervention levels, with increasing support, and decreasing opposition, from the lowest to the highest level. However, "extensive improvements", whilst attracting support, also gives rise to concerns about unwanted side effects, particularly in relation to commercial development. At this stage there is, of course, uncertainty about what this level would actually entail, but it seems clear that while some could live with (or would even welcome) a fairly substantial commercial/public attraction element, others could not.

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A.3 Features and Facilities (1,300)

Comments in section cover a mix of existing items to be retained or improved, old ones to be restored and new ones to be introduced. Note that specific questions were not asked in relation to these items and the responses are therefore all unprompted.

3.1 The Farm/Zoo (215)

There were many unprompted comments in favour of bringing back the children's farm/zoo, plus a few suggestions on how it could be enhanced. There were very few comments against it.

3.2 Children's Facilities (209)

There were frequent calls for more and better children's play areas (including a new one at the top of the park). Adventurous play, a paddling pool and donkey rides also featured.

3.3 Café (147)

Concern about the quality of the café and the food on offer was widespread. Some people would like to see café provision at additional locations around the park, and particularly where advantage can be taken of views.

3.4 Lakes, Fishing and Water Features (103)

These comments included pleas for the return of boats for hire, re-introduction of water features, improved water condition and opening the fishing lake to the public.

3.5 Fencing (88)

There was a good deal of concern about the excess of fencing, and/or its poor quality, particularly in the dinosaur/lake area.

3.6 Toilets (67)

There was general concern at the poor quality and restricted number of toilet facilities.

3.7 Gardens and Horticulture (59)

A number of respondents stressed the need to introduce a stronger horticultural or formal garden theme to the park.

3.8 Trees (57)

Most of the comments about trees were concerned with the need for more planting, but there were also some requests for cutting back trees where they were blocking light.

3.9 Paths (53)

The current condition of the footpaths, which are seen as dusty, unsafe and difficult to use, was the subject of a number of comments.

3.10 Dinosaurs (45)

There were a number of comments in support of the recently renovated dinosaur area, again with suggestions for further improvement. From discussions with visitors to the consultation, the dinosaurs were clearly a popular reason for bringing children from outside the immediate catchment area of the park.

3.11 Museum (40)

The museum attracted relatively little attention (possibly because its existing location and opening hours mean that it is not well used or even known). Those who commented almost all expressed a wish to see an improved and/or enlarged museum with longer opening hours.

3.12 The Stage Area (38)

All the comments in this category urged the improvement, replacement or removal of the existing stage facilities.

3.13 Wildlife and Bio-Diversity (37)

This issue attracted limited attention, most of which emphasised the need to manage the park in a way that would create or improve wildlife habitat.

3.14 Buildings in the Park (33)

The main concern here was for limiting the amount of built area in the park &endash; which links to the comments made in Section 1 about retaining the park as open space.

3.15 Environmental Education (24)

A small number of suggestions were made for educational facilities or activities related to wildlife and other environmental issues.

3.16 Subway (17)

The subway also attracted limited attention, but mostly in support of renovation and re-opening. Again, the lack of interest is probably explained to some extent by the fact that few people have seen it, or even know of it.

3.17 Heritage Features (14)

There was a low level of concern for the protection of heritage features such as statuary.

3.18 Seating (14)

A number of requests for more benches, particularly near ponds, and for picnic areas.

3.19 The Maze (9)

There were a few comments in favour of keeping or improving the maze.

3.20 Other Facilities (31)

A wide variety of other suggestions were made, including a miniature railway and hire facilities for bikes and boules.

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A.4 The Hilltop Area (294)

Many comments were made about the hilltop, and particularly whether or not it should be subject to any built development. Those who commented explicitly on this aspect were divided in their views, as follows.

For development (17): wanting a "major building", or an "interesting modern building".

For limited development (35): the area to be "mainly open", with any buildings to be "small scale" and "in keeping with landscape".

Against development (19): the area to be "open or wild" and "kept as parkland".

However, many more people (133) appeared to support some form of development and made suggestions as to their preferred type of building. The most popular ideas were a viewing tower or platform, a café, gallery/exhibition space and a range of other public attractions. There were also some queries about the Wilkinson Eyre "pod on stilts" scheme.

Other suggested uses for all or parts of the hilltop area included children's play, formal gardens, conservation of historic value and wildlife.

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A.5 The Terraces (55)

The majority of concerns about the terraces were about the need for preservation and restoration.

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A.6 A New Crystal Palace? (182)

Although no question was asked about this, many people expressed unprompted views about the possibility of rebuilding the Crystal Palace, or something similar. The majority of comments called for either a full size reconstruction, a smaller scale version, or for a modern glass structure in its place. Suggested uses included a botanical house (like Kew or the Eden Project), restaurant, art gallery, concert/exhibition space, sports, museum and butterfly house.

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A.7 Day to Day Management (230)

The main themes emerging under this heading were:


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A.8 Events (166)

There was popular support for the re-introduction of concerts and other events to the concert bowl area. Suggestions included farmers' markets, food fairs and cultural festivals at additional locations in the park.


A.9 Roads and Parking (75)

Most comments in this group were concerned with restricting the impact of cars by limiting, or reducing, the amount of road and parking space. However, some stressed the need to maintain good car access and parking space close to facilities.

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A.10 Public Transport Links (82)

Some people were concerned to ensure better public transport links between the park and central London. The poor access to Crystal Palace station was highlighted. There were few comments about Tramlink and most of these were queries about the route in relation to Crystal Palace.

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A.11 Outside the Park (11)

A small number of comments were made about the need to improve areas surrounding the park, including Crystal Palace Parade, Penge and Sydenham.

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A.12 Future Governance & Ownership (140)

Two themes emerge clearly from this group. Firstly, there is a strong undercurrent of distrust for Bromley Council in relation to the management of the park, based on its perceived track record. Secondly, the most popular option for the future was management by an independent trust.

Management by the GLA/LDA was supported by a smaller number but some concerns were raised about their legal power to take this on. Fewer still expressed views - some for and some against - management by a consortium of local authorities.

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A.13 Funding (128)

Comments about future funding of the park were a very mixed bag. However, there was general (but not unanimous) support for increasing the level of funding and a call to seek this from public sources such as EU and Heritage Lottery Fund. Some also recognised that private funding sources would probably be needed as well.

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A.14 Commercial/'Non-Park Related' Development (254)

Only a few comments expressed unqualified support for commercial development as a means of funding the park. Similarly, only a few expressed unqualified opposition.

The great majority of those who commented did not rule out a commercial element but thought that this should be limited in scale and nature and, in some cases, restricted to developments or events that were directly related to normal park functions or to the sports centre.

There were strong concerns about unchecked commercialism and developments such as retailing, fast food outlets, hotels, pubs and cinemas &endash; which were commonly seen as a threat to the value of the park. (However, the hotel theme also had some supporters.)

Although the results above may seem unambiguous in themselves, it is not clear how they relate, for example, to the demand for a "new Crystal Palace" or similar venue (Section 5)[? A6 ?]. Would this charge entrance fees and, if so, would it be seen as unacceptable commercialism or as an acceptable park-related leisure facility?

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A.15 Conclusions on Park Responses

The volume of responses, including those on entirely unprompted issues, indicates a high level of public interest in the future of the park.

There is dissatisfaction with the current state of the park and concern about what will happen if its perceived decline is not reversed. This is evident from both the widespread rejection of the two lower levels of intervention and from the comments about the need for new or improved features and facilities.

Support for several threads can be traced through the results:

  1. Maintaining the value of the park as a tranquil green space (formal & informal). 
  2. Improving "ordinary" park facilities (security, toilets, paths, children's play etc).
  3. Preservation or restoration of heritage features.
  4. Enhanced attractions for local park users (children's zoo, concerts and other events, restaurant, local museum).
  5. New attractions that would create a new "sense of place" bring a wider public(regional, national or international) to the park (sculpture gallery, butterfly house, national museum, new Crystal Palace).
  6. New developments that would bring revenue to the park (some of which might be the same as above).

Although all these approaches have their supporters, there is a tendency for anxiety levels to increase as the ideas get more ambitious, with concerns about over-development and unchecked commercialism coming to the fore. However, relatively few respondents appear to be categorically opposed to them, just as few are prepared to give them unqualified support: the majority seem willing to consider the pros and cons in more detail before making up their minds.

Loss of access to the park during any works period is also an important factor for some.

Top of page (Contents);

Introductory letter(LDA); Summary of Key Findings; Contents; Section B & C; Appendix 1; Meetings Index

3/12/2004 Last updated: 3/12/2004