A30 - Bulletin and season's greetings (December 2008)
Crystal Palace Campaign - Bulletin December 2008
Bromley Council's Planning Development Committee meet on 9 December 2008 and voted to approve the Application for Outline Planning Permission for the Master Plan for Crystal Palace Park.
This is a big step forward for the regeneration of the park (and the area); the plan is the most comprehensive scheme for the park since the Crystal Palace was moved to Sydenham Hill in 1854. The Master Plan is large and complex, and clearly doesn't satisfy everyone. It is therefore bound to involve some problems, probably the most difficult area being at Ledrington Road. Therefore, in some ways acceptance was a brave step for Bromley; but they recognised that a start had to be made after so many decades of neglect and that there was yet time to resolve some remaining issues.
The alternatives to acceptance of the plan don't bear thinking about. It is impossible to see how a totally universally accepted plan could have been developed, we would have been debating for another decade. For the many people who have spent years working towards this moment and for the majority of local people, a rejection would have been devastating. This once in a generation opportunity would have been lost.
So now, the real work starts now - how does the Master Plan get implemented?
A very important part of the 'how' question is the issue of park governance. Who will be the organisation to seek the finance needed to deliver the Master Plan? Bromley are the current owners of the park but the LDA (London Development Agency) have an option, until March 2009, to take over the ownership - the option could be extended if a decision isn't made by that time. At various meetings of the Park Working Group, part of the stakeholders dialogue process, options for ownership were discussed and a model of some kind of joint ownership was favoured. An excellent example is to be found in Paris where a single parks department looks after all the parks in the city. Next favoured but more practical (i.e. more likely to come about) was joint ownership by the neighbouring boroughs - Bromley, Lambeth, Croydon, Southwark and Lewisham - in conjunction with the LDA. There needs also to be a place for the voice of the community.
A lot of publicity has been given to opponents of the Master Plan. It's always much easier to get press coverage for the "Protesters Angry at Council Decision" headline rather than the "Everyone Agrees" type. Articles which begin "The bulldozers will soon be advancing on the park..." (South London Press last week) are very eye catching but... totally wrong in their implication! The last time bulldozers descended on the park was to remove all the concrete and steel (turnstiles) behind Crystal Palace Station and create a really pleasant and welcoming entrance. The bulldozers will also be needed for removing all the concrete around the NSC, thereby restoring the Paxton axis and creating a huge green space instead of grey concrete. So here we have a "bulldozers are good" scenario! So, if you're keen website visitors - why not do 'posts', or letter-to-the-editor, anywhere you can, in support of the park regeneration.
For the time being the facilitation/dialogue process is in abeyance. This is an opportune moment to extend thanks to Nigel Westaway (and associates) for their perseverance and patience in keeping the process going through some difficult times. The Campaign originally hired Nigel to kick off a meeting, aimed at reconciliation, following the demise of the multi-plex development. From the beginnings set in train at the "Battersea Meeting" it turned into the dialogue process which has, 6 years later, culminated in the Master Plan. Once again, thanks Nigel.
Have a very happy Christmas, Channuka, New Year - whatever you celebrate; and look forward also to happy new new beginnings for our park and our neighbourhood.
Crystal Palace Campaign
* I rarely comment on press stories - occasionally I feel it's necessary.
Picture: Taken in April 2008 in Crystal Palace Park - a sudden unexpected flurry of snowing
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22/12/08-Last updated: 22/12/08