ON SATURDAY, 17 APRIL, 1999 at 11am


Introductions; Philip Kolvin; Tessa Jowell; Jim Dowd;

From the floor; Fred Emery; Richard Evans; John Ellner; Lane Miles; Lauren(aged 8); Dr Pamela Reuben; Catherine; Lorraine Hart; Philip Gorman; .....

[ Chairman - plea to pro-multiplex speakers ]

..... Two senior ladies; Martin Heath; Councillor Janet Grigg (Gipsy Hill Ward); Councillor William Rowe (College Ward); Pat Trembath (Sydenham Society); A Lady; A Gentleman; ....

[ Chairman - response concerning Greater London Authority query & motion]

.... Angela Ransley (Martell/Tritton Action Group); Bill Higmann (Dulwich Society); Ken Lewington (Vice Chairman, Crystal Palace Campaign); Dr. Luke Zander (general practitioners survey); Bridget Furst; Dave Gurman; Simon Wallfisch;

Summing up; Philp Kolvin; Tessa Jowell;

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On the top table:

The Rt. Hon Tessa Jowell MP,
Jim Dowd MP for Lewisham West
Lorraine Hart Community Liaison Officer, Mile End Park
Bill Higman, Chairman of the Dulwich Society
Philip Kolvin (Chairman)

Introductory Speakers

PHILIP KOLVIN Welcome to this public meeting. Thank you very much for giving us your valuable time and coming here today. It's a fabulous turnout and the sheer number of people here today is testament to the concern, which the Crystal Palace multiplex has aroused within this community. (Long loud applause) We are deeply grateful to TESSA JOWELL who is the MP for Dulwich and West Norwood and the Minister for Public Health for calling this public meeting to hear the range and depth of views which are held locally so that she may better represent those views as a constituency MP. And can I also take the opportunity to welcome JIM DOWD who is the MP for Lewisham West and I can also see my local Councillor JANET GRIGG and there may be other local Councillors here. I know that Councillor WILLIAM ROWE is here from Southwark. (applause)

My name is Philip Kolvin. I'm a local resident and Chairman of the Crystal Palace Campaign. Tessa Jowell has asked me to chair this meeting and I am privileged to be able to do so. Today the CPC is not going to make a formal presentation because this is your opportunity, this is the community's opportunity, to speak and to have its voice heard. We are very keen this morning that the whole spectrum of views is heard. - Return to Contents

TESSA JOWELL Good morning everybody and I am delighted to see such an amazing turnout which is clearly a direct reflection of the concern that people have locally about this development and I was very pleased to ask Philip Kolvin to chair the meeting. My aim is twofold: first of all to provide maximum opportunity to hear from you your views and secondly to ensure that those views at this, now what is a late stage in the process, are reflected to those who are in a position to influence the outcome. But what I'd like to do, in order that everybody is equipped with information about how we got to this situation is to just set out very quickly the background to where we are now.

First of all there are two aspects in relation to the current position. First is the legal and secondly the planning aspects. There is, as you know, an appeal outstanding at the House of Lords on whether the proposed design of the new building falls outside the specific Act of Parliament, the Crystal Palace Act, passed in 1990 which was intended to determine the shape and nature of future development on that site. And the issue there which has to be settled, by the case being heard in front of the Law Lords, is whether Bromley have breached undertakings that were made to Parliament on the design of any building on the site.

The second set of issues relate to planning and as most of you will be aware, Bromley Council propose to further consider the planning application at their next meeting of the committee on 6th May, the item having previously been withdrawn from the meeting on 31st March. (correct date: 30 March) But Bromley have made clear in a letter to me and I have tried at every stage since very shortly after the election in 1997 to circulate everybody who has been in touch with me about this with all the relevant correspondence. Bromley has made it clear in a letter to me that they intend to go ahead with their proposal and feel that the committee meeting on 6th May will not legally be able to impose new stringent conditions in relation to the application.

I have asked the GOVERNMENT OFFICE FOR LONDON (GOL) to take a further look at the proposals and particularly in relation to the enormous concern that there is throughout my constituency about the level of traffic that will be attributable to the ..... (applause) and I have also, at regular intervals over the past two years, have discussions with relevant ministers. RICHARD CABORN is the Minister for Planning, who is responsible for this, is obviously at this stage in the process, unable to receive a delegation formally and the same stricture applies to GLENDA JACKSON, as the Minister for Transport who has ministerial responsibility for this aspect. But I have had further discussions with her and agreed that in the light of the importance of this meeting today, I would have further informal discussions with her next week in order that she is fully informed of any new listings that arise in the course of today's meeting.

The history of the key decisions that have been taken to date many of you will be familiar with, that Bromley took over responsibility for the Park in 1986, that the principal of development on the site was conceded when the Crystal Palace Act, promoted by Bromley, was passed in 1990. And at that time the committee which considered the bill was extremely anxious to ensure that safeguards were put in place to ensure that the spirit and style of the old Crystal Palace were reflected in any new development on the site. And thoughts for the site so far that the new building does reflect this style ..(derisory laughter) I'm trying to give you an impartial .. (derision) But I think it is important to note that the then members of the private steering committee appear not to agree with this view.

The current proposal was due to be considered by the planning committee of Bromley Council in 1997 and it was at that point that I raised concerns about the impact of the development and very particularly the impact for the people that I represent caused by the enormous extra volume of traffic and at that point, in July 1997, I made clear to Bromley and to the Secretary of State that I wanted to see the proposal called in.

Now just to quickly run over the issue, the GOL intervened at that point and prevented a decision being taken by Bromley but after due consideration, which is how the process is framed in law, in March 1998 (March of last year) the Secretary of State indicated that he would not call in the Planning Application. (derision) I met with the Prime Minister at that time to express what was clearly a widely held view that the impact of increased traffic had not been properly addressed. That was my view then, it is still my view that this development has not involved proper consideration of the impact on the surrounding area of the extra traffic. (Loud applause)

Now as you will know, Bromley passed outline planning permission in March 1998 and were due to agree the detailed aspects of the scheme at the end of March this year. I again asked them to defer granting permission until concerns over traffic had been addressed and very particularly that the legal arguments over the Crystal Palace Act had been exhausted. I also asked the GOL to intervene. Throughout this process what I have tried to ensure is that the very wide range of attitudes to the development and the concerns among the people that I represent have been listened to and it has been my aim to represent consistently the over-riding concerns that everybody has about the impact of traffic to Bromley Council.. So I have raised these concerns consistently with Bromley, the GOL and with the relevant ministers. So over-ridingly, as I have said, the major concern is about traffic and the associated pollution that the additional traffic will bring and I suspect as we get into discussions we will have a lot more to say about that.

And there is clearly an unresolved dispute over the projections that Bromley has put forward on the estimated numbers of increased cars. Many of you are here today and have expressed concern over the design of the building feeling that is a wholly inadequate successor to the original Crystal Palace. (applause) But there is concern, not just about the design of the building, but there is also concern about the purpose of the building (loud applause & cheers), the purpose for which the building will be used. But I have to make it clear that there are many people that I represent who see the opportunities created by the money that will come into the area (derision) through regeneration and extra jobs (No's) for welcoming development on the site.

No, it's not hamburger city, it's about extra jobs, it's about the kind of jobs, the kind of money that will improve the area for everybody (derision). So there are three issues: the unresolved matter of the traffic, which I think is the over-riding concern (No's), the design and purpose of the multiplex cinema (applause) and there is the very clearly expressed view and wish to ensure that the regeneration opportunities are not in any way jeopardised and that the extra jobs will be of benefit for the people who live in the area. (No's)

I think that as Philip Kolvin made it clear at the beginning, that I am prepared, and I am here today and I have called this meeting to hear from you your views on this, beyond the many representations that I have already received. But it seems to me that there are two particular areas of concern. First of all, are alternative uses - viable, reasonable, realistic alternative uses - of the development on the top site. And the second, is in relation to further representation and further action that needs to be taken to ensure that the issues of traffic are properly addressed. And I think the third reason that I would like to draw some conclusion on this morning is the way in which we take this forward and what I would like to see, and what I would propose to Bromley is that from this meeting, we establish a small and representative stake holder forum, which does represent and give voice to the wide range of views about the development on the top site. In order that we can work together with Bromley, in order to produce proposals that will attract a wider degree of support than the proposals which are on the table at the moment, for which there is almost universal hostility, particularly in this part of Dulwich, er of my constituency, in this part of Dulwich.

So that's the way in which I think we should frame the discussion this morning

I'm open to hear from any of you about other concerns that you may have and if all of you do not have the opportunity to get in and make you claims this morning, then you can write to me, telephone me at the House of Commons, or come to one of my weekly surgeries. But thank you very much for turning up this morning and I hope we can now move on to the purpose of the meeting, which is to hear from you. (applause) - Return to Contents

JIM DOWD Ladies and Gentlemen, Jim Dowd, MP for Lewisham West. My experience in this really has not been as intensive as Tessa's. My constituency ends just at the roundabout at the top of Sydenham Hill. Undeniably the Crystal Palace Park is important, not just to the people of my constituency but it is an important asset to the whole of South East London (applause). The future of it needs to be seen in that light. I am not a member of Lewisham Council any more. I don't speak here as a representative of Lewisham Council; I was on the council for twenty years and was involved with numerous development issues in and around the borough but it won't surprise you to know that I do support Lewisham's position on this, which is one that they conveyed to Bromley at the outline planning stage which was that we support, the Council supports the restoration of Crystal Palace Park and the development of this site for appropriate use, expressed concern that cumulatively with other substantial leisure proposals in the area this out of town, this out of centre scheme, could adversely affect existing proposed leisure provision in town centres and borough provision, that is a parochial point, they are entitled to make it although I do think there is a broader issue involved, expressed concern to ensure that a co-ordinated approach to traffic issues in respect of proposals for Crystal Palace Park as a whole involving all relevant boroughs. And I think that is critically important in the terms of traffic and traffic management whether this scheme goes ahead - whatever goes ahead - in Crystal Palace, is important to the residents of all the five boroughs that touch Crystal Palace (applause). And its best concern that the illustrative design of the proposed building due to the dominance of roof top car parking and vehicular ramps is inappropriate for this landmark site (applause).

Lewisham felt unable in September 1996, unable to support the SRB bid being made by Bromley although broadly in support of the principle of bringing regeneration to the area, but couldn't support the individual bid in part again for parochial reasons - it felt it might threaten it's own chances in Catford and Lewisham - there are these parochial matters that need to be resolved.

In summary, and like Tessa, remember Tessa and I went to a presentation by Bromley in Crystal Palace, eighteen months ago now to see exactly what they had in mind, my worry, in all of this.. like Tessa I asked for the plans to be called in ..that was turned down ... is that Bromley are just not listening enough (applause) it's thought that all the representations they take them in, there is no indication from Bromley they are absorbing the widespread fear and hostility there is to this scheme and making adequate provision for it. I think it is ridiculous of them to assume that because we are against this particular scheme, we are against any scheme (applause).

I do support the principle of development, somebody said earlier, no surrender with Bromley or whatever it was, but I have to tell you Get Real, Bromley do have the lead responsibility in this. Simply getting into a position of confrontation with them is probably not the best way for making the kind of progress that I'm sure that everybody in this room expects to see. In other words, we have to get them to listen, we have to get them to understand, we have to get them to be far more collaborative with the other boroughs in the area and the residents that they represent.

With those words I will conclude my remarks and look forward to hearing what everyone else is thinking. - Return to Contents

From the floor

FRED EMERY Sydenham Hill. I am a constituent of yours, Tessa. When I wrote to you about this, as have lots of people I'm sure, I said that a number of people told me they would never vote Labour again unless the government sorted out the mess .. (loud applause). The fact is that we are very grateful for you holding this meeting which you say is extremely late in the day. One of the reasons is that British public opinion is very slow to move, very slow to come to the forum, but when it does, it's pretty hot. It is not too late to act.

I want to talk about the design. You very ably covered much of the history here, but you left out one thing and that is, how the mess developed, the actual mess on the site. Many local people I know were very upset at the mess that did develop there in the later stages but they forget is how when Bromley took over the stewardship following Mrs Thatcher's break up of the GLC one of the first things they did was to allow disgraceful fly-tipping all along the ridge. (loud applause) That was supposedly to prevent squatting. Never forget that Bromley's fly-tipping went first.

As for the permanent eyesore that Bromley propose putting up,.. but if you want a monument of this particular architect's work, we have one in Crystal Palace Park already. (derisory laughter) Only in Britain we would put up an outdoor concert shell, actually designed to rust.(laughter) And so Bromley have proposed rewarding the architect by allowing him to design his monstrosity for the top of the hill. Only in Britain again could we even contemplate building a rooftop car park, dominating the finest view of London from the south. (loud cheers) Not to speak of the fact that this massive structure will despoil everybody else's view of what has simply been a green fringed ridge.

Now you've spoken about the Act, I won't go into that. It's quite clear - one of the MPs who was on that Select Committee said that if Parliament insisted on this design then it would require the Act to be changed for it to go ahead.

Now you've spoken about the process and the many things that have been considered. I would submit to you and to Jim Dowd sitting next to you that the one thing that has not been considered in this whole affair is local opinion.(loud applause) You Tessa and you Jim Dowd know that Bromley's project simply doesn't square with this government's policy on urban areas and saving green spaces. You do have other remedies. You sit in a government with a 170 odd majority. If this building is to go ahead and make an ass of the present law then use your majority to change the law. That's what parliaments are for. (long applause) Not sitting there helplessly but stopping once for all a development that is not appropriate for an historic park site and that nobody has asked for.

Now, you are a senior enough minister, Tessa, to help us find a way through here. To get a recalcitrant council to sit down, for the first time with this community, and work out an agreed alternative, not some stakeholder forum where they'll just say 'we've had a quick consultation and it's fine because people want regeneration'. That's the sort of argument you get. We, in this area, have hardly ever heard anybody speak up for regeneration and new jobs. They haven't been advertising for them. Maybe it's too early. But the point is it's an argument that has not been made.

This is a national site, Jim, not just South East London (applause) Let's change courses, yes I think we do want regeneration and jobs but let's build a proper national park at Crystal Palace. An empowering action like that would make people look up to their Labour government and maybe, Tessa, even come back as voters.

Thank you. (long applause) - Return to Contents

RICHARD EVANS My family has been resident in Crescent Wood Road since 1946 and I have other relatives who have lived in Dulwich since the turn of the century. Tessa, I want to talk to you as you are my MP but I want to also address my remarks to Jim.

I am totally against this development for the environmental reasons that are well known, the traffic reasons that are well-known and the social reasons that are well-known, but I want to nail on the head what you talked about earlier, about the so-called economic benefits of regeneration here.

I believe that if this development goes ahead, what you will see and therefore be partly responsible for, is an economic ripple effect that will go at least in a ten-mile radius. We will see the further destruction of Forest Hill, Jim, it's bad enough already. We will see Crystal Palace that is struggling to improve itself, decline. (applause) We will see the very real achievements made by Southwark council in parts of Bermondsey and Peckham decline. And above all, we will see not an influx of well paid, stable jobs but very low paid insecure jobs. (applause)

And therefore I would strongly urge you with these arguments, (it's not just myself but many other people), I would strongly urge you to take this representation forward so that this decision can be defeated and as Fred has just said a better development, for example, regeneration of the sports facilities would be much better. (Applause) - Return to Contents

JOHN ELLNER owner of Joanna's in Westow Hill and Chairman of a Traffic Sub-Committee.

To the top table, really, we would like to address the matters from a commercial point of view. There seems little point from our standpoint as the Chamber of Commerce, which incidentally represents the Palace and also Norwood or the Norwoods,- we feel that the creation of certain jobs in this proposed development will be nothing to those jobs that will be lost (applause). I think paramount to us, as a Chamber, is that any development, be it an Arts Centre or even open parkland, integrate with the existing areas. We see no way, shape or form that the present development shows any sign of integration. It would spell the death of the triangle. (applause) We, and I hope a lot of other people in the room, feel that we have a small village atmosphere on top of the hill (applause) and that is to be maintained and retained at all costs. It is very very silly and foolish to be talking of any development of this kind without proper consultation and correct forethought but Bromley seem unable to do that. Thank you (applause) - Return to Contents

LANE MILES I'm pretty old so bear with me. I'm just about eighty so I am struggling. I live in the Kingswood Estate a stone's throw from here. Tessa knows me, knows me very well and I do believe it was my meeting with Tessa that brought her round here today. I do believe that, and I'm sure she knows that as well. Being a supporter of the Labour party all my life, I naturally get all the leaflets that come through the door and I happened to get this one, for College Ward: 'Labour News'. When I looked at it I thought 'Southwark's going green!' Gosh, they've supported us at last. They've supported us people who've been campaigning to keep the park a place where children can breathe and enjoy themselves and the wildlife is there. (loud applause) And you can walk along and have a bag of chips or go in a restaurant on a Saturday night. Good. And my heart jumped in my mouth and I thought they vote for Tessa, she's doing her work - good; but I look a little bit further down - it was nothing to do with us. "We all want clean air for our children and ourselves and this is just the part of Councillors' effort to address this extremely important issue"- I thought that must be Crystal Palace! But no it's not. It's dust vans! (laughter) They're getting new dust vans. Nothing to do with Crystal Palace fresh air. You're going to be polluted. You can't breathe, if they have their way. So, Tessa, get off the wall. Come down with us. We are the people. (long loud applause throughout) We are the people. And we are determined, determined, determined to win this battle whatever it costs. Whatever it costs. We are determined. And more money will come into you, don't worry. There are people who've got this campaign at heart. Don't listen to anyone who says 'we do need this' - we are not going to have it! Thank you. (continued loud applause) - Return to Contents

PHILIP KOLVIN Thank you Lane. I really do think that the people who are going to be the beneficiaries or otherwise of this development are the next generation and we ought to hear from them.

LAUREN [aged 8] I'd just like to start by welcoming you all and especially the children. I think if they go ahead with what they're going to build, I think it's going to destroy a play area for all the children. I think they'd all agree with me if many of them were here. And it's also going to cause lots of traffic and pollution, which is going to be hard to breathe in. And the night-clubs are going to be hard for people who live in the area to get to sleep which is going to be very annoying if they have to go to work or school very early in the morning. (applause)

And they're also going to be chopping down loads and loads of trees. (applause) And the trees release oxygen and breathe in carbon dioxide, which is very bad for us, and they breathe out oxygen, which is very good for us. So if they're going to harm young people at Crystal Palace, I think you will all agree with me that the air that's going to be there and the air we'll be breathing in will be petrol and disgusting things which are bad for the lungs.(applause)

I'd like to end my speech by saying one thing which may concern many of you, which is one of the things that I have talked to my friends about at school which was the left overs of the Crystal Palace which were very old and they bring back memories for some time long ago and I think destroying them is going to be a lot of memories ruined and is going to mean loads and loads of destruction and things which will mean loads more things will be put in like fast food stores and I think they should not go ahead with this and if they do, well I'm not going to even visit the place.(applause) - Return to Contents

DR PAMELA REUBEN I'm just off Alleyn Park. I am reminded of Victorians who forged ahead with economic advancement regardless of the effect on the environment and ruined many lives. I think it is a pity we haven't learned anything from them. (applause) - Return to Contents

CATHERINE Sydenham Hill. I wish to say something about regeneration. I think our government should be a bit ashamed of themselves. We hear a lot about regeneration, we hear a lot about joined up thinking. Chris Smith announced funding for redoing and creating new urban parklands just as our parkland was about to be destroyed. Is that joined up thinking? (applause) And secondly, in terms of regeneration I've worked on regeneration projects in other parts of London. Sustainable regeneration is built on the community. It's about listening to people, talking to them, hearing what people in the community want. The problem here is that Bromley is not our community. (applause) Very few people who will be massively affected by this actually live in Bromley. We live in Southwark, Lewisham, Croydon and this government has demonstrated a complete failure to create an acceptable process for the regeneration of this area.

Why wasn't it called in? What was the Government Office for London thinking about? They ought to see how this would affect us and that we were not being consulted.

So I think Tessa and Jim, if you can't take that message you're not doing joined up thinking. You seem to have forgotten about it and you're not doing regeneration. Talk to some people in your social exclusion units about how they are looking at working with communities not destroying them (applause) - Return to Contents


PHILIP KOLVIN Can I just pick up that point. It's a very important point that the lady makes. She talks about Chris Smith's new fund. It is called the New Opportunities Fund. It was announced last month. It is worth £125 million nationally and this is what it's for:

It did seem to me when I read about that £125 million that that was an ideal opportunity for this community to get together and do something with Crystal Palace, courtesy of the government. And so I very much agree with what the lady said. (applause)

I'd like to call Lorraine Hart next. I would very much like to welcome her. She is from Mile End, which has used £14 million of government money to acquire control of and create regeneration of its park without putting a multiplex on it. I thought it might be helpful for us to hear from her. - Return to Contents

LORRAINE HART (Mile End Park project) I come from the north side of the river but I am also a Crystal Palace user. I just want to say what an inspiration it is to see so many Londoners who really care about their parks and open spaces.

I want to tell you something about the Mile End Park Project, which is a millennium park. Those of you who are interested can visit our website and there's some literature at the front. But mostly I want to talk about the process that we went through. I am the Community Liaison Officer for that park scheme, which is still ongoing and has just started on site. We are building a green bridge across the Mile End Road to link up our park, which is a 90 acre green strip along the canal in the heart of Tower Hamlets, which is like some parts of your boroughs, one of the most deprived areas in Inner London.

I think the most important thing to be learned from our project, certainly from the point of view of all the people in the room and most certainly from the point of view of the local councils and statutory authorities involved, is the point that the lady was making previously about regeneration.

One of the things that the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, the Environment Trust which is a local registered charity in Tower Hamlets and the East London Partnership, which is a private sector organisation, before any pen was put to paper about what should happen to Mile End Park there was a consultation process. (hear hear) It started with a blank sheet. Now I don't want to give anyone the impression that there aren't people who are still opposed to certain parts of our parks scheme but who nevertheless have been involved in a whole series of events, children's events, large public consultation events, education projects, arts projects, where we've engaged a whole series of people in talking about the detailed design of the park.

The most important point about that process from our point of view, and is a lesson that I think could be learned in relation to Crystal Palace's, we've secured £12.3 from the millennium commission to part implement our park. We would not have got that money without the consultation process that we embarked upon because people believed that it was something that everybody wanted and, like your park, Mile End Park is a north east London facility, it's not just about the people who live immediately around it, but it's also about people who live on estates further away who want to be able to use green space, playgrounds and whatever else a park has got on offer.

Just in relation to the issue of buildings and money, - because it is very difficult; local authorities are under terrible pressure when it comes to parks and open spaces - it is one of the few areas where there is no statutory requirement for them to provide anything. Now I could make Crystal Palace as a special point, but nevertheless there is a real issue about resources and when it comes to considering development proposals we made some very hard choices, but in particular around the issues of use of the park. We have buildings in our park but you'd never know they were there, because they are earth sheltered. That makes them more energy efficient, it makes them less of a blot on the landscape and it also makes them a feature, which is about making sure that buildings and landscape can live in harmony, if you like, from the point of view of park amenities. (applause)

I don't want to take up any more time. I can certainly provide for the campaign lots and lots of ideas based on the consultation processes that we've had about how you could take forward a dialogue with your local authorities and your MPs and your politicians locally. It is possible. It will involve some terrible arguments. Believe me, I've been in front of large numbers of people who wanted to have my blood, but nevertheless it is possible in the spirit of trying to make the best of the space that you've got for everybody who uses it currently and for those future users and I certainly hope that all of you will visit Mile End Park because it is going to be a wonderful facility for people of North East London. I hope you can start the process of dialogue with Bromley Council and other people, learning from projects like ours and other regeneration projects that have started off with local people. (loud applause) - Return to Contents

PHILIP KOLVIN I have to say that I have read the Mile End documents this week and they are very, very inspiring and I do hope everyone will take the opportunity to look at some of these documents and also to visit the park in Mile End and just see how much can be achieved and how inspiring a park project can be. That's all we should be looking for in Crystal Palace.

PHILIP GORMAN I've lived in Crystal Palace since 1981. I live in Victoria Crescent. When I came to live here, around the Triangle we had five bakers, four butchers, two fishmongers, toyshops and many other little businesses. Now, thanks to that monstrous Safeway, they have all gone. All those jobs, businesses, gone. And the same will happen if this carbuncle goes up on our Crystal Palace.(applause)

I cannot understand why the Secretary of State for Transport, Environment, Regions and everything else that he is would not call for a public enquiry. (applause) However, I would say to you on that point, that in 1991 personally promised me as Chairman of the Marchioness Action Group that when elected to government he would have a public enquiry into the Marchioness disaster. Two years down the line we're still waiting. So don't hold your breath for your public enquiry but you should certainly press for it as hard as you can, so we can help to save our park. (applause) - Return to Contents

PHILIP KOLVIN Is there somebody here who would like to speak in favour of this particular multiplex? And I mean that quite seriously. Is there anybody at all? I do intend that if there is somebody here who supports the building I want you to speak up and I want you to be heard with respect and with tolerance. Anybody at all? (what about Bromley?) What can I tell you? - Bromley were invited haven't come. Can I also tell you that I wrote this week to the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President (Europe) of UCI Cinemas Limited in Manchester, (Lee House, 90 Great Bridgewater Street, Manchester M1 5JW - Dave Harris, Vice President & General Manager UK & Eire has been acknowledging receipt of letters. Telephone: 0161 455 4000 or fax: 0161 445 4076)

They are not here, they haven't come. They've really never stuck their heads above the parapet so it may be that you, the community, would like to write to them, just to make sure that they keep understanding what the views are. Can I just repeat my request? Is there anybody here, just any single person who wants to see this multiplex on that site? Anybody? No. Is there anybody here who thinks that it's worth putting up this multiplex for the jobs which it will create? Anybody? (nobody came forward) - Return to Contents

TWO SENIOR LADIES Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, my friend, Miss Collis, has lived in Crystal Palace Park Road since 1947 continually. I have lived with her in the same flat for three years.

What I would like to ask is do we need a building at all? (loud applause) Could we not, Miss Jowell, Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen think about a landscaped garden which would cost much less money. (applause) It would thus improve the existing amenities by oxygenating the area with trees and plants, a water garden could be instituted (I understand the original Victorian piping is still beneath the ground from the old fountains). Could we not in the spirit of the original Crystal Palace re-institute the fountains, form a water garden, a scented garden for the blind and thus by having a garden and not a building really improve the amenities. Thank you very much. (long applause) - Return to Contents

MARTIN HEATH (who is interested in the ecology of the site) First of all I would like to thank Mr Philip Kolvin for the tremendous amount of work that he's been doing. (applause) I would also like to thank Sue Nagle for all the work she did in starting the Campaign. (applause) Ladies and Gentlemen I am going to be very brief. This is a public park we are talking about. I want jobs and I want regeneration but is it unrealistic to expect that we can't actually keep a public park. That we have to stand by while 200 trees and I mean 200 (150 trees is a conservative estimate) 200 trees are cut down to produce a multiplex.

Well we've got a petition here with 13,619 names on it. This petition could be ten times bigger. Do you know why we stopped collecting it? Bromley Council said they wouldn't look at it because we forced people to sign it (no) Fifteen of us forced 13,619 people to sign it. (applause) So my message to Bromley is watch out because one of two things are happening. Either there's fifteen of us and we're real mean or alternatively there's a lot of people who believe in us.

We're going to be holding a meeting on 14th May at 8.30 pm in St. Bartholomew's Church, Westwood Hill, near the junction with Kirkdale and we will be discussing how we take the protest forward because we are absolutely fed up with this attempt at a stitch up that we've seen here today. The idea that we're all supposed to support some nice quiet committee and come quietly and be nice to Bromley and be nice to New Labour and be nice to the developers, no way.(applause)

Roxanne here is one of the fifteen people who've been intimidating nearly 14,000 people. She represents the future and I'm asking her to give this to Tessa Jowell. Philip thank you very much indeed. (long applause) - Return to Contents

COUNCILLOR JANET GRIGG - Gipsy Hill Ward which is going to be very very drastically affected if this scheme goes ahead. Our primary concern, as Tessa recognises, is the traffic and the parking and we fear very much that we are going to have a parking zone inflicted upon us which we already know from the enormous petition that we received last year will not be welcomed by our constituents. There is just one thing I would like to ask Tessa if she could approach the Labour group on Lambeth Council who are fully supportive of this scheme. Their words are "that it will bring enormous benefit to our area." And I would like to ask her how she's going to address that. (applause) - Return to Contents

WILLIAM ROWE - Councillor for College Ward. I don't think we politicians can express nearly as eloquently as the people who've been involved in this campaign, how strongly they feel about it and how vital it is that this development is stopped. Just to confirm to you Tessa and Jim that our postbag - mine, Kim Humphries who is my fellow councillor on College Ward, the main issue in our postbag is this development and the things that people hate are the traffic and the parking that is going to be a nightmare if it goes ahead; they hate the design and they hate the use that this building is going to be put to and the crime and disruption that that will cause. (applause)

Now much against my political better judgement I'm going to be nice to you and say I think it's very good that you've got involved, albeit at this late stage (hear hear) and what I would like you to do at the end to confirm to those of us who might just be a little bit cynical about your late involvement, confirm to us what specific, concrete actions you will be taking, apart from just meeting with your ministerial colleagues, to make sure that this development is stopped. (loud applause) - Return to Contents

PAT TREMBATH Sydenham Society who has been opposed to this development since its inception and is very pleased to support Crystal Palace Campaign. We already have a monster, commercial development in Sydenham - a hyper market, that's been there since 1985 and the traffic impact around our area has to be seen to be believed. We've had a lot of traffic calming that's gone into residential roads and traditional mounting on pavements to allow the traffic to flow freely. The last thing Sydenham wants is another monster development at the top of the hill. We still have 26 acres at Bell Green that British Gas would like to develop commercially as well. Nothing but traffic, traffic, traffic up and down Sydenham Road.

Jim, nice to see you here. Please take it on board. Sydenham Society has supported this campaign. We had an AGM on 30th March. The overwhelming decision of the meeting was continued opposition to this development (loud applause) - Return to Contents

A LADY The thing I resent, as a rate payer in Bromley, and I would like to start a 'no way, we won't pay' protest, amongst the rate payers of Bromley, (applause) because I resent the leader of the Council getting in touch with his mate the Chief Constable, on behalf of his friend the property developer to use the Old Bill as a private army on behalf of his mates (applause) and spend £3 million of our dosh (shame) and I think it's totally out of order, typical of politics today unfortunately, the sooner we have electronic voting and get rid of the lot in my opinion, the better. (applause) - Return to Contents

A GENTLEMAN Could I ask a question Mr Chairman? Could I ask for some information, which ought to be heard? We haven't so far looked ahead. What I want to ask is: is there any plan that the new GLA (the Greater London Authority) is going to take back control of the parks which formerly came under the GLC? (applause) This whole problem arises for two reasons: because of the neglect of the site - since 1936. There's been a vacuum - I've seen this coming, I was at school next door at Dulwich Prep - I remember always thinking 'what are they going to put there?'

Now the other problem is of course that Thatcher dismantled the GLC and parks all over London were devolved by local councils. The disaster of Alexandra Palace was that it - a very expensive white elephant at the time, but is now paying - was devolved on Haringey, which is a cash-strapped borough and has tremendous problem in funding a £45 million overspend and is a burden on the ratepayers.

I feel that because we have waited sixty-four years, it's really now worse - this whole thing - the line of this campaign should be to work for the deferral of the development or any future decision on the site, for the arrival of the GLA. (applause) - Return to Contents

PHILIP KOLVIN I've got your point and the thought has crossed our minds and that's why we've got all this legal action going, is we're waiting for something to happen. Can I tell you what we're doing?

We have asked Croydon Council to intercede on our behalf. Croydon Council passed a motion three months ago, in full council, to seek the removal of Crystal Palace Park from Bromley's hands and be placed in the hands of the Greater London Authority (loud applause) What the gentleman said is absolutely right there are five local authority areas abutting this park. Four of the five oppose the multiplex, at the time when outline consent was given, and yet the consent went ahead. It's obviously nonsense. So we've asked for that to happen. Apparently ministers are averse to taking Crystal Palace Park out of Bromley's hands because they feel they need to do it with all the GLC parks, the ex-GLC parks, which in my mind would be a jolly good idea. They're strategic parks - they ought to be in the hands of the new GLA.

What we might do, to give ministers a little spur, ladies and gentlemen, towards that is just to have a motion and perhaps I could propose the motion and Tessa will presumably take that on board:

'that we as a local community believe that the 'Greater London Assembly bill' should be amended to move the title to Crystal Palace Park from Bromley Council and place it in the hands of the Greater London Authority.'

Could those that support that idea please put up your hands. And does anybody oppose that? And does anybody abstain? I think the people have spoken. Thank you. It' s a very valuable point. (applause) - Return to Contents

ANGELA RANSLEY from the Martell/Tritton action group and I want to inform the meeting about the changes that are proposed within the Park. The main aim is to rework Paxton's design in a modern idiom and to unite the new Crystal Palace with the park. This approach is fatally flawed in that Paxton was working at a time when land was cheap and plentiful and the population was low.

One reason why the complex is so vast is it that it is the original scale of the Palace. Adhering to this scale would result in the loss of a great deal of land to the public that is not included in the lease. One of the proposals is to re-introduce the original flowing water from the top to the bottom of the Park and this would certainly be desirable. However, in order to achieve this the designers want to build a new lake on an area that is intensively used. This is tremendously costly in land terms. The Park has enough water already.

The question must be asked: "What price conservation"? Do we owe more to the dead than we owe to the living? The scheme does not bring conservation and public amenity into a proper relationship and this must be done.

Another fatal flaw is that no-one, Bromley, the architect or the landscape designers have a thorough knowledge of the Park and this is clearly shown in the plans for the café. It is intended to put it at the bottom of a resident's garden, to which they are vigorously opposed. The siting of a maintenance area nearby, with its ten tractors, will also not be appreciated. The use of metropolitan open land for car parking is prohibited but Bromley claim that special circumstances exist. These are that they don't know how to solve the traffic problems brought about by an oversize building. (applause)

If these plans proceed I can foresee a time when it will be necessary to limit entry to the park. Bromley has plans for further development such as a Paxton centre and it is in the interest of everyone who loves the Park that these plans are suspended now. (applause) - Return to Contents

PHILIP KOLVIN I ought to briefly give the community an update on what Bromley's plans in fact are. It's not just the multiplex.

Next door to the multiplex, on the other side of the transmitter is the big covered reservoir, that lawned area. Bromley propose to put a 500 space car park there (disbelief) As with the park itself, which is supposed to be the cornerstone of the whole regeneration, Bromley needed £28 million to do that, the Heritage Lottery Fund have refused them that money on the grounds that it thinks the plans are poor. So what we appear to be getting now is a huge multiplex standing in a derelict park.

BILL HIGMANN Dulwich Society Thank you Philip. You've invited me to make a brief statement on behalf of the Society and its members and I'm delighted to do so. We are trying to speak on behalf of a thousand households throughout the Dulwich Estate and to represent the amenity interest of the Estate as a whole and beyond. There is not a consensus that all our members are against the development of the Crystal Palace top site or even some of the proposed uses. We do however have a community of interest that all those who are affected by the proposed development.

We greatly welcome the initiative Tessa Jowell has now taken initiative to delay Bromley's decision. We should now make best use of the time made available to consider our objectives carefully. We've expressed our full support for the Crystal Palace Campaign and the manner in which Philip Kolvin has conducted it (applause) We've conveyed that support to him and made it clear to our members and he's had no dissent about that.

There are really two issues: the nature of the development itself and the impact on the surrounding area. We are emphatically not opposed to economic regeneration of the area provided it is long term and sustainable (applause). We believe there are more effective ways to do it which do not cast a corresponding blight on the surrounding, largely residential neighbourhood (applause) We realise that any commercial development has to meet financial targets of money that funds it. We object to excessively short-term commercial objectives, which impose an environmental cost, which will have to be borne by other people. (applause)

Developers seek to recover their financial stake in five to ten years, we have to live with the consequences over the next fifty to one hundred years. The commercial proposal is for short-term uses, which are already in over supply in south London, and in danger of early obsolescence. (applause)

But the other main problem is access. And we believe that the access problems for road vehicles, in particular, have not been properly disclosed by Bromley or publicly reviewed. It's very important they should be. For Dulwich and for London as a whole the road access implications for the traffic increase on this scale need very close scrutiny.

It is a site of importance to London as a capital city within four miles of its centre. It will dominate south London as the original Crystal Palace did; its successor should grace the old upper site at Crystal Palace and not disgrace it. Thank you. (applause) - Return to Contents

KEN LEWINGTON Vice Chairman of the Crystal Palace Campaign

Thank you Tessa for intervening on this matter and thank you for calling this meeting.. I'd like to broaden the issue a little bit and let you consider the following.

First we have the Royal Fine Art Commission writing to Bromley in 1992, to say "that the Crystal Palace site should be offered protection as a scheduled ancient monument". But now the Commission describes the Ian Ritchie concrete, sorry - crystal, Palace in glowing terms and can't wait to see it cover this precious site. It is, of course, pure coincidence that Ian Ritchie himself is a Royal Fine Art Commissioner. (laughter)

Then we have English Heritage sitting on the appointment panel, which recommended the architect. And they say that "we too recommend that this building should proceed" and of course it is the Royal Fine Art Commission and English Heritage who both say this airport-terminal of a building is in the same architectural style as Paxton's great glass greenhouse.

We see the developer, London and Regional Properties, sitting with Bromley, English Heritage and others on a working party convened by the GOL last year to decide best how to redevelop the remainder of the Park. It's all in Bromley Council's minutes. Where do we come in?

When you look at Bromley's single regeneration budget bid document, here, we see that it was accepted at face value by GOL, but according to Bromley a community forum had been set up, that is to say, local consultation had taken place. The forum was in fact only set up three months after an award of £14 million was announced by the then environment minister. And incidentally who was a signatory, partner, in this bid? - none other than London and Regional Properties - obviously far more important than the community.

We could see the Secretary of State refusing our calls, saying he'd taken into account regeneration. Well Philip has covered this and certainly, Bromley's central plank, the Park, - they put in a £28 million bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for this - it's been a dismal failure - £3 to £4 million they've got. And we see consultation on traffic issues formally beginning now, led by Croydon, on 4th May this year, twelve months after the Secretary of State said that he was happy with transport and traffic issues.

Now I could go on for ever, I shan't do so. But what I shall do is make sure that these issues, Tessa, and others, many others, are on your desk within the next ten days. Thank you. (loud applause) - Return to Contents

DR. LUKE ZANDER I am a local General Practitioner and I am addressing you Tessa, partly as our MP, but also as the first holder of an extraordinarily imaginative initiative of this government to create the post of Minister of Public Health.

Before coming I circulated a brief letter to one hundred and fifty general practitioners, providing health care for the community in Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark to see to what extent they were also concerned, and I have here the replies from them. And of the ones I've received over 90% said they agreed or strongly agreed to the statement "I believe that the planned Crystal Palace development has significant harmful implications for the health of the local community (applause) which need to be given urgent consideration."

I just want to very very briefly itemise the main health problems. The first one, which has been mentioned many times, is the issue of atmospheric pollution. Now this is an issue, which our government, or your government has made a major point and has given a considerable lead in trying to reduce. What is interesting is that the conditions which particularly are concerned with creating pollution are not only cars, but cars that travel slowly or even are idling with their engines on. They are particularly important and if you are going to have a project which its viability is dependent on 3 or 4 million people a year, that inevitably will mean that a large number of people from quite a wide radius are encouraged to make journeys which they would otherwise not be making.

The other form of pollution, which has been touched on, is noise pollution which also (applause) your government has been very strong in trying to do something about. Inevitably this complex is going to create that.

The second form of health care which I think is important is the behavioural one which has already been touched on. In a project which is considerably smaller than the one planned it has already been shown that it has been associated with an increase of alcohol and drug use and associated crime which is inevitably an issue of great concern to those of us living in this community (applause) and there is no reason to suppose that this project will be any less likely to follow this path.

The third and final point is the one which was highlighted by our young contributor a while ago and that is the health promoting function of open space which is both related to exercise, it involves the whole community, the young and the old, as a social, psychological, important health promoting focus.

And so on these grounds, as Minister of Health, I would support the other recommendations that you are actively involved in trying to turn this project down. (long applause) - Return to Contents

BRIDGET FURST I live in Dulwich Village. Time is running out for this meeting as Philip's just said. Time is running out for us to actually get Bromley to do something about it and the point is that we all know that we are going to be powerless. We've been powerless right up to now.

They were able to cancel that meeting at the end of March, they're not going to cancel the meeting on May 6th, and therefore we need to demand of Jim and Tessa (I thought Jim's contribution and Tessa's contribution were absolutely spot on) but we need to demand of them, that they see John Prescott and say we must have a Public Enquiry to stop it now. (long loud applause) - Return to Contents

DAVE GURMAN I, like everyone here, wrote to Tessa Jowell a long time ago and I wrote down lots of questions, things like: Everybody laughs when they talk about the spirit and style of the old Crystal Palace; everybody in the room. You've spoken to Tony Blair, you've spoken to the Council, you've spoken to all sorts of people. How many things have you actually demanded?

The gentleman down here who spoke first said the Labour party at the end of this could earn themselves a lot of votes, well most people in this room I'm sure believe in democracy and the parliamentary system. It's true that you do have a majority of 170. You spoke to Tony Blair. What are Tony Blair's views on this? What are John Prescott's views? If they're the same as the rest of the people in this room why hasn't this been stopped?

Now all these people in this room, some may vote for Labour, some may not but I have got involved in this because it's on my doorstep. It's about the quality of life that exists at the moment. I live in a corner of Southwark, my child goes to school across the road in Lambeth and Bromley are about to ruin my life. You're the central government, if you don't stop this, if you don't actually stop this rather than talk about this, I shame anybody in this room who ever votes for the Labour party again. (applause) - Return to Contents

SIMON WALLFISCH I live just off Anerley Hill in Bromley. I'd just like to say, it really upsets me when I hear people say that building this development, in Crystal Palace, is actually a worthy replacement of what used to stand there 64 years ago before it burned down. What used to be there was a real respected cultural centre of South London (applause) and what they're going to build here - a multiplex cinema - upon which it's very essence is greed, is going to be an insult to our heritage and we must stop it. (loud applause) - Return to Contents

Summing up:

PHILIP KOLVIN Tessa, I want to address these final words to you. Once upon a time there was a very wonderful park and there was a very wonderful building actually on that park and the poet Thackeray looked at that building and he wrote these words:

A blazing arch of lucid glass
Leaps like a fountain from the grass
To meet the sun

We are a very lucky community because we are the inheritors of that dream and of that vision and of that park. And because we've inherited the park and because we love it, we are its moral guardians. We are the guardians of one of the most famous sites in park history; a site which instils pride, not just in local people, but in the whole of the nation.

I've often wondered, are we capable of rising about this conflict? Can we as a local community, aspire to something which will bring forth a poet, like Thackeray, to write about our achievement? Can we bring forth national pride? Can we bring forth a sense of community participation, involvement, and achievement? I know we can because I've seen the energy and the passion with which this community has addressed this issue.

Tessa, your leader, Tony Blair, wrote in a government document called "Leading the Way - a new vision for local government" he wrote these words. He said "We have to harness the contributions of business, public agencies, voluntary organisations and community groups and get them working to a common agenda."

If ever there was a case which cried out for government, for the funding agencies and for this community and for any community to sit down round a table and work out this problem, to work out the future of this site, together and in harmony, this is that case. (loud applause)

We, the people of Crystal Palace, are extremely grateful to you for your intervention and for calling this public meeting. You've enabled the community to put its views vigorously and in a lively manner and we are grateful to you for listening to us. But the touchstone, the litmus test of whether this meeting has been worthwhile is what you achieve for us, from now on. (applause)

We are looking to you, to provide a lead in bringing the various parties together to achieve consensus over the future of this great site. In short, we are asking you to do what Bromley won't do for us which is to give us a voice and to listen to us. (applause)

We are asking you, to help save our park. Those words are the words on this T-shirt "Save Crystal Palace Park". I hope I've got the size right but it's a gift from the Crystal Palace Campaign to you and I hope you'll accept it, in the spirit it's intended. (long applause)

(Don't forget to record it on the list of member's interests) - Return to Contents

TESSA JOWELL (concluding speech)

You're absolutely right. Lest I forget! Philip, thank you very much indeed and can I just begin by reiterating my thanks to all of you who have come here today and to just say how seriously I take everything that you have said.

What we now have to focus on (as Philip has rightly said) is what progress we can achieve from here. And what progress I can help the Crystal Palace Campaign, and the other organisations beyond the umbrella of the Crystal Palace Campaign, to achieve. And I think that there are two ways in which we can do this.

First of all, the planning application will be further considered by Bromley on May 6th but just because planning permission is granted doesn't necessarily mean that the development will proceed. I therefore see a sense of absolute urgency to move quickly in the two to three weeks between now and then.

And what I would like to do is to establish a working group that will be representative of the views of the local community to work with Bromley and the other local authorities directly affected, in order to develop a proposal which attracts widespread public support because we cannot proceed if there is a proposal so at variance with what local people want.

In addition, the focus of effort must now be in the design and purpose of the multiplex (vociferous opposition) and the traffic issues. That is my understanding of what the Crystal Palace Campaign wants. We have to be realistic about what can be achieved. This reflects the requests of many of the contributions. We now need to move forward.

There have been sustained efforts over the last two years including attempts to get the application called in and demands have been raised for a public enquiry. I have sought to get the plans turned down as the traffic proposals are ill thought out and do not take the scale of the traffic into consideration. It is too late to expect John Prescott to call in the plans.

This is what I consider to be possible. It would be misleading if I were to leave here today and demand John Prescott to call in the whole application. I cannot pretend that that would happen. This has already been turned down.

What I believe we should do, and what I will seek to do with the Department of the Environment, Government Office for London and Bromley Council is to establish a kind of community forum to develop an alternative proposal to the multiplex and seek further conditional delay to the application and to obtain proposals for the traffic which are realistic and acceptable.

That is what I am offering. I will propose, and will invite the Crystal Palace Campaign to join the forum, as I will be inviting other agencies and community representatives to join it. I believe this is an opportunity for the community to work together to get a result that will stand as a monument to the approaching millennium. I hope that the Crystal Palace Campaign can realise this offer because in all honesty it is something that I can deliver and achieve and it is a move forward, focusing on results. I look forward to working with that. (vociferous demands for a public enquiry) - Return to Contents


A vote was taken on those in favour of a public enquiry. The result was unanimous support for a public enquiry.

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[ Webmaster's note: - thanks to Suzanne Elkin for the incredible effort in transposing the taped conference to the typed word. The navigation and responsibility for the accurate transposition to the web site is mine - so, please, any errors, complaints or further information ... address them to the webmaster. Last point - great efforts were taken in being accurate in reporting the meeting; the public meeting was called by Tessa Jowell and the speakers called as they presented themselves to the Chairman; the Crystal Palace Campaign does not necessarily endorse all the views expressed. ]

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