(B.4) Background to the Development at Crystal Palace - Campaign History
Update July 2003
A short history
of the planning issues, the development of the Campaign, the
legal challenges, the attempts to develop a reasonable
dialogue recent events, EC, UDP and the current
A short history of the planning issues, the development of the Campaign, the legal challenges, the attempts to develop a reasonable dialogue recent events, EC, UDP and the current status.
Fresh start after a decade of fiascos -- chronology of Bromley's flawed attempts to 'Redevelop' at Crystal Palace Park.
Still waiting... Still watching...
NOW - July 2003
On 15 May 2003 the UK Government announced London's bid for the 2012 Olympics, including staging the modern heptathlon at Crystal Palace. This, together with the dialogue process initiated by the Crystal Palace Campaign with Bromley Council on 29 June 2002 implementing local consultation on the future of Crystal Palace Park, sparked new hope that a decade and more of fiascos and conflicts might be at an end. What follows is a history of what brought us to this point.
In 1986 the 200-acre Park, at the south London ridge junction of five Boroughs (Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark) was handed to Bromley with the abolition of the then Greater London Council. The Park is currently designated Metropolitan Open Land, is classified Grade II* listed on the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens and the majority of it falls within a conservation area.
In 1989 the London Borough of Bromley (LBB) promoted a private Bill in Parliament so that the 12-acre site at the summit of the Park, where the great Crystal Palace stood from 1854 until 1936, could be used for 'a hotel, restaurant, shops, licensed premises, leisure facilities, entertainment facilities and associated uses '. The current Unitary Development Plan (UDP) allows for a hotel and leisure facilities on the site [but proposals to downgrade the park's green status in the new draft UDP 2002 are being widely challenged &endash; see below]. Neither the Bill nor the UDP were then opposed by the community in any meaningful way, save that the Crystal Palace Act, 1990, now contains provisions with regard to the style of any new building on the site. Contents
In 1995, after the collapse of an earlier proposal for hotel and leisure uses, Bromley set up an officer working party to consider a way forward. Local community groups were offered a token consultation before LBB went 'back to the market'. In August 1995 it was resolved by Bromley's Leisure & Community Services Committee that, in order to attract developers to the top site and to increase any premium derived from the lease of the site, the market would be allowed to determine the leisure mix. This effectively closed down any community involvement in what should or should not be built on this historic Park.
Separately, Bromley drew up a £12-15m scheme (later increased to £37.8m) to re-landscape the rest of the Park with Heritage Lottery (HLF) funding, together with a £40m scheme to re-vamp the National Sports Centre with Sports Lottery funding. The premium from the developer of the Palace site, London & Regional Properties Ltd (L&RP), would, in part, be used as partnership funding for the re-landscaping scheme. The whole Park package was seen as central to Bromley's bid for Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) government money in September 1996 (to which L&RP, and English Heritage were signatory partners) and £14.1m was awarded. Contents
The planning application for the Palace site was made in April 1997 - it involved 53,000 square metres of leisure floor space, including a 20-screen multiplex. The Crystal Palace Campaign (CPC) began a month later - simply a group of local people who wanted the multiplex scheme stopped and a say in what should happen to their Park. The Secretary of State was pressed for a public enquiry and in July 1997 he imposed an Article 14 Direction, which prevented Bromley from granting outline planning permission whilst he considered the case. However, when in March 1998 he lifted the Direction, Bromley immediately granted outline planning permission.
At about that time CPC acquired a new Chairman - barrister Philip Kolvin - and he proposed that we seek leave for a judicial review of Bromley's planning permission on the grounds of conflict with the UDP, planning policy, traffic issues and the Crystal Palace Act. The case relating to the Act was that Bromley had misled itself when interpreting advice given to it by, amongst others, The Royal Fine Art Commission and English Heritage. At the High Court hearing on 27 July 1998 the application for leave was refused, but this decision was reversed at the Court of Appeal on 2 September 1998. However, the issues which could now be taken to the judicial review were limited by the Court to the Crystal Palace Act, 1990, which dictated the style of the proposed building, and to issues associated with parking.
The original conservatory-like Crystal Palace was described in the last century by John Ruskin as 'a vast cucumber house', whereas the design to replace it - which had to comply with the Act - was being likened by thousands of local residents to an airport terminal, with giant ramps leading 950 cars on and off the rooftop car park.
However, on 21 December 1998 the Crystal Palace Campaign lost its Judicial Review hearing at the Court of Appeal. The Crystal Palace Act, 1990, says that the principal building erected on the site ' shall reflect the architectural style of the original Crystal Palace'. Giving judgement, Lord Justice Schiemann said:
"For my part, I agree with the proposition that the proposed new building does look very different from the original Crystal Palace and my layman's reaction before reading any of the evidence was that the proposed new building does not reflect the architectural style of the original Crystal Palace."
However, Bromley had asked advice on this point from bodies such as the Royal Fine Art Commission and English Heritage and, having looked at their support for Ian Ritchie's design, the judge continued:
" it seems to me that it was eminently reasonable for the Council to turn to architects for advice on whether the architectural style of the old Crystal Palace was reflected in the proposal. A number of eminent independent bodies agreed with the eminent architect who designed the proposed building that it did reflect the architectural style of the original Crystal Palace".
So the views of the ordinary person about the architectural style of the old Crystal Palace, not to speak of the MPs who drew up the Act, counted for nothing regarding a building with no windows on the ground floor and just one floor of glass angled outwards at 40 degrees to the vertical. The Court conceded that Bromley had miscalculated by 500 too few the requirement for car parking spaces - but concluded they would have granted planning permission anyway, so they dismissed this argument too. Contents
House of Lords
Undaunted, the Campaign petitioned the House of Lords, arguing that the 1990 Act should be interpreted in a common sense way, i.e. that any new building should visually resemble the original. Regrettably, the application to have the appeal heard at the House of Lords was not granted. Contents
Bromley's approach throughout has been to say that there has been full consultation, and that the community has been involved. In fact there has been little in the way of meaningful consultation and community involvement has been nil. They also say that this development is central to the success of its SRB programme. Thus it is clear that their top-down approach has been driven by the need to justify the desire to obtain a premium from the developer and to push the SRB bid for all it is worth. Contents
A multiplex on a park?
We believed that a huge, commercial multiplex operation had no place on a historic Park and the Crystal Palace Campaign was determined that it not proceed. The Crystal Palace Campaign was supported in its quest by thousands of local people and many amenity groups as well as Friends of the Earth and the London Wildlife Trust. The proposal was condemned by the planning committees of Croydon, Lewisham and Southwark, with Lambeth calling for an environmental impact assessment. Furthermore, Croydon made the case for the Park to be vested in the new Greater London Authority. Contents
A better way
The Campaign put in its own application for a more sensitive scheme. (The People's Park concept incorporated a small model of the Crystal Palace, 6ft high by 50ft long, which was itself the subject of the planning application.). This has been left undetermined. Contents
New Planning Applications
In January 1999 a new application (99.0155) was submitted giving further detail on the multiplex proposal. Planning applications were also submitted relating to the Park itself (Nos 98.3352, 99.0001 and 99.0002) to carry out alterations to and restoration of the terraces and steps, and to implement much of a re-landscaping scheme by designer Kathryn Gustafson. However, the Heritage Lottery Fund has concluded that a modern landscape should not be imposed on a historic Park. Therefore, out of a bid of £28m only £2.1m was awarded for specific restoration works. This was later increased to £3.7m to account for inflation, and work, including the felling and replacement of hundreds of trees, and restoration of the 19th Century dinosaurs, began at the end of 2000.
The Campaign made submissions on these proposals but at Bromley's Development Control Committee meeting on 6 May 1999 full permission was granted for both the drive-on leisure complex and the Park re-landscaping scheme. The Campaign then requested the European Commission to bring infringement proceedings in the European Court of Justice, arising out of the failure at any time to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), (see below). A petition to the European Parliament was separately submitted by a number of local residents.
Unconnected to CPC, some 30 eco-warriors peacefully occupied the site in 1998 and were evicted in April 1999 in a large-scale para-military operation which cost Bromley £2.7m. Also, in 1999 a separate Judicial Review action against Bromley was brought privately, with legal aid, by Diane Barker, a single-mother on benefit. She lost in April 2000 in the High Court but was granted on 8 February 2001 permission to appeal, with a full judicial review, in October 2001 which she also lost in the Court of Appeal. When the case went before the House of Lords they referred it to the European Court of Justice. Contents
A traffic/transport consultation exercise, commissioned by Bromley, was carried out by Colin Buchanan & Partners in the summer of 1999. Some of the resulting proposals are welcome whilst others are causing considerable concern. These include the possible extension of the Tramlink through the Park, the loss of parkland to widen Crystal Palace Parade, controlled parking zones, and a one-way system in Upper Norwood. In December 2000 Mayor Ken Livingstone called in the latter but it was implemented in June 2002. Clearly these and other issues require more discussion and consultation with the community before final decisions can be made. Contents
In March 1999 CPC held a successful demonstration in Leicester Square in front of the Empire (flagship cinema of UCI, the multiplex's sole tenant) followed by a march down Whitehall to Downing Street. We organised a number of public meetings, publicity and fund-raising events including a seven-mile march from Crystal Palace to Leicester Square where a 20,000-signature petition was handed to UCI. A nation-wide demonstration against UCI Cinemas was organised in February 2000. Contents
At our public meeting on 25 September 1999, attended by Lord Weatherill, MEP Jean Lambert and an audience approaching 1,000, CPC's Chairman read out a letter from Ian Livingstone, Managing Director of L&RP. In this letter, the company agreed to participate in a stakeholder forum. The forum would consider 'all issues pertaining to the provision of leisure in the Park'. Most importantly, as CPC insisted, it would work from a 'clean sheet of paper' and start without any commitment to particular uses or design.
However, although we took the initial steps towards making such a forum work, by consulting local community groups and other interested parties, the developer failed to act. Nevertheless, CPC worked to bring together a forum of community and business groups together with councillors and GLA members to discuss issues relating to the Park. Contents
London's Mayor (& other matters)
In May 2000 the newly-elected Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, lived up to the campaign pledge he made at our 15 April public meeting attended by 1,500, to appoint Darren Johnson (GLA Green) as his London Environment Adviser. He was promised whatever resources he needed to use the Mayor's influence to halt the multiplex. Johnson announced on appointment that
'First on my list is to take the fight for Crystal Palace to Bromley Council. Local people must be heard over this threat to their quality of life and the future of this historic site.'
The Mayor, Mr Johnson and other elected Members of the GLA have been very supportive.
On 19 May 2000 LBB learned that Sport England Lottery Fund had rejected its bid for £32m towards a £40m scheme to modernise the National Sports Centre. This rejection, together with the loss of funding for the Park and the continued delay to the multiplex proposal, left Bromley's SRB strategy in disarray. Responsibility for SRB matters devolved in July 2000 to the London Development Agency (whose members are appointed by the London Mayor). We asked that agency to scrutinise Bromley's SRB scheme and consider how it and all proposals for Crystal Palace Park should now proceed.
In July 2000 L&RP applied for 14 pub-type liquor licences in the multiplex. CPC, with Mayor Livingstone's support, mounted a legal challenge on 27, 28, & 30 November, which resulted in magistrates imposing severe restrictions - 13 licences, and only one of them a pub.
In August Ian Ritchie confirmed he had been replaced by 'delivery architects' RHWL, amid accusations against L&RP of cheapening and 'dumbing down' the Ritchie design. On 3 October, without knowing exactly what the 'gabion' façade of the Ritchie design would look like, Bromley's Development Control Committee unanimously approved the final planning consent stage of 'reserved matters'.
On 11 October 2000 the European Commission, after 1_ years' investigation of our complaint, decided to send a formal letter of notice against the UK authorities for prima facie breach of the European Council Directive requiring an EIA prior to planning consent. Some experts considered that this landmark European legal action might halt the project altogether. Contents
In January 2001, we wrote to prospective tenants suggesting possible damage to their profile if they signed up to the multiplex. An 'Alternative Prospectus' was sent to chief executives and finance directors of 99 operators of pubs, eateries, bowling alleys and health centres. Contents
Also in January CPC acted to halt a secret plan to fell over 140 trees on the top site. Walter Million, Bromley Borough Secretary, and Geoffrey Springer, Director of L&RP, were urged in letters from us and from senior politicians not to interfere with the tree-lined ridge when so many legal challenges remained unresolved. On 28 February Bromley co-leaders Cllrs Maines and Holbrook, claiming they had 'listened to people's concerns', announced they had no plans for the trees 'in the immediate future'. CPC welcomed the respite but challenged them to explain. Contents
On 10 April the Commons gave a first reading of a Bill to transfer the Park from Bromley to the GLA introduced by Geraint Davies MP, with a promise, if re-elected, to reintroduce it in the next Parliament. A companion Bill was to be introduced in the House of Lords by Lord Warner of Brockley.
On 21 April 10 parliamentary candidates answered questions at our pre-election public meeting, attended by some 500 local residents, with a majority opposing development on the Park. Contents
On 11 May 2001 Bromley announced they were scrapping the multiplex because
'L&RP have failed to complete the lease within the prescribed period.'
Both have since brought legal suits against each other, which were settled in April 2003 [see below]. CPC immediately explored opening a dialogue with Bromley on a fresh start. Contents
Consultation Starts Here
In July 2001 the Campaign launched the first-ever consultation exercise in which questionnaires were distributed to over 40,000 households in the postcodes immediately adjacent to the Park. A huge majority of those responding favoured green solutions in the regeneration of the Park. Views were almost equally split over any building on the top site, with proponents mainly supporting community, cultural and arts facilities. The majority against any commercial leisure development of the ridge top site was 69% : 16%.
The survey questionnaire, entitled "Consultation Starts Here", asked people to mark their preferences in four distinct areas of the Park. For the top site, the most striking majority (82%) favoured an ecology park or managed parkland. For the main area of the Park, where Bromley have been engaged in piecemeal "restoration", with much tree felling and new planting, again overwhelming majorities (85% and 73%) came out for managed parkland or ecology. But new community or cultural buildings in the main park were opposed by smaller majorities (40% : 33%) and (45% : 24%). Sizable majorities favoured more events (72% : 12%) outdoor arts (60% : 17.5%) and more sports facilities (48% : 26%).
For the Park sector currently housing the old museum, large majorities favoured new cultural (62% : 16.5%) and community (63% : 14%) buildings.
In all the above three areas strong majorities favoured emphasis on the Park's 150-year history, predictably highest in the museum area (75% : 7%).
For the rundown National Sports Centre, which Sport England, as Bromley's tenant, initially proposed merely repairing, the survey recorded a huge majority wanting renewal (81% : 5%), although only a narrow 42% : 38% majority favoured commercial leisure operations in the sports centre.
Analysis of the results by postcodes showed no variations, either within or between the boroughs. .
London Mayor Ken Livingstone in his foreword to the Report commended the Crystal Palace Campaign for consulting the local community and stated that the report was an important contribution to the debate on the Park's future. He added:
"The quality of the Park in recent years has not been of a standard fit for a regional park, or for the communities surrounding it. Improvements are needed, but not developments of a scale best suited to an urban town centre."
Trust Proposed and Report Published
In September 2001 CPC proposed the establishment of a Community Trust to manage the Park, with a consultative forum to represent community interests.
In May 2002 CPC published its report and analysis on the consultation survey and again called on Bromley to initiate dialogue with local residents. Contents
On June 29 2002 CPC initiated and sponsored the first-ever serious discussions among politicians and community representatives from the 5 boroughs on the future of the Park. Agreement came at an independently facilitated workshop, which asked a 8-9 member task group to produce an agenda for a consultation process that aimed at leading to a partnership and shared management of the Park. Bromley agreed to fund the continuing dialogue through SRB monies, with donations from adjoining boroughs and local organisations. Contents
In June 10 BBC Radio 5 Live's 1-hour 'On the Line' programme reported on the stand-off between Bromley as owner of the dilapidated Sports Centre, and Sport England as the tenant. The Centre is being given up by Sport England when its lease runs out in 2004, with talks currently underway over how much Sport England should pay in repairs and refurbishment. Initially landlord and tenant were at loggerheads over simply restoring the NSC to its 1964 state &endash; Bromley said up to £20m, Sport England £12m &endash; but making the NSC simply a museum piece rather than an updated regional centre is unacceptable to the community. Contents
June 30 was the expiry date for Bromley's already extended park refurbishment contract with McNicholas, followed by litigation over many items, not least the paths, which was not settled until April 2003. The renewed dinosaur area was officially opened on July 4 by the Duke of Edinburgh and Bromley are conducting restricted guided tours around this area which will not be re-opened to the general public until new plantings have got established, possibly in July 2003. CPC is closely involved in monitoring the unhappy state of the Park together with Bromley representatives.
Recent Events - EC, UDP etc.
In August travellers illegally occupied the top site, dumping refuse until a court ordered their eviction. Bromley Council promptly erected a hoarding fence which they stated would remain until the future of the top site was decided. The hoarding blocked access to the Park from the Parade and, having been erected without consultation, caused much local resentment. CPC issued statements, both looking to its early dismantling, and expressing dismay, However the fence issue dominated much of the second dialogue workshop in November, and eventually led to some parties withdrawing from the dialogue. The majority participants however have pursued the process in two committees, with another plenary in the summer of 2003 set to consider proposals for regenerating the Park. At the same time government bodies have also been meeting to consider plans for the park &endash;including the Government Office for London (GOL) the London Development Agency (LDA), together with representatives of the Mayor of London. It is understood that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport have commissioned Ove Arup to conduct a feasibility study of not only the future of the NSC but also the entire Park. Bromley itself is transferring management of its parks and leisure services throughout the borough to a Trust. The future day-to-day management will be provided by a private contractor specialising in parks maintenance beginning August 1 2003. CPC will be keeping close scrutiny on all these major changes, and will wish to make representations as appropriate.
On January 24 2003 the EC, dissatisfied with the government's responses, referred its EIA case against the UK authorities to the European Court in Luxemburg. Final judgment against the UK government could result in large fines, plus forced changes in UK planning law. Coincidentally, on April 2 Bromley announced an out-of-court settlement with L&RP of their legal suits over the cancelled multiplex, with Bromley stating it recovered £2m in all.
Bromley's insistence on downgrading the top site's green MOL status in its forthcoming UDP has led the CPC to marshal substantial opposition. At the public inquiry in the autumn of 2003 CPC's chairman Philip Kolvin will represent our objections, as well as those of any other parties joining with us. Contents
Any proposal for the Park will be
carefully examined to see if it satisfies the terms of the
Core Principles. which are,
along with much else, on our website.
Top of Page; Return to Background Index
London's Mayor (& other matters)
Tree Felling (Feb 2001)
Commons Involvement (May 2001)
Trust and Workshop
Recent Events - EC, UDP, etc.
Crystal Palace Campaign, July 2003
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Last updated 31/5/99;Full update 10/03/00; 4/11/00; update 11/5/01;21/5/01; 22 July 2002; July 2003