Without having seen samples of the building finish, and relying on 18-month-old and out-of-date illustrations, Bromley councillors next Tuesday, October 3 are set to give final detail approval for the proposed Crystal Palace Park 20-screen cine multiplex. Council officers are recommending approval despite a sharp warning that the council could face court action if the building quality is “being eroded to save money.” The warning is given by Bromley’s own independent Advisory Panel for Conservation Areas (APCA) and is disclosed in documents prepared for the council’s Development Control Committee meeting.

Developer London & Regional Properties, accused by industry critics of “dumbing down “ the project after replacing the original architect Ian Ritchie with the RHWL partnership, are now disclosed to be changing the exterior surface yet again. Originally, the walls of the lower half of this massive airport terminal style complex were to be in steel with quartz aggregate. Over a year ago the walls were changed to “gabion” which is granite boulders in steel mesh cages normally used for motorway or river embankments. Now Bromley officers, according to documents, says “it is understood that the gabion wall will be constructed with facing stonework … rather than as a wall of loose stones contained within a steel mesh/cage”.

This switch to cladding will be news to Bromley’s APCA panel, which as recently as September 1 advised the council that the preceding proposal to reduce the gabion wall depth “does not cause us a problem insofar as the overall effect of stones within stainless steel mesh will be maintained”.

Noting that the architects RHWL “seemed somewhat unprepared” for APCA’s questioning, the panel further expresses sharp concern over the appearance of the giant external vehicle ramps which lead up to the rooftop car park. Complaining of changes in materials and limited information, the panel states that the structure “could so easily weather adversely in the short term hence it is essential the very best materials are employed”.

The Crystal Palace Campaign, which is challenging the proposals at the meeting, insisted than an up-to-date computer-designed illustration be prepared for the public so that they could understand its impact, particularly of the massive vehicle ramps. However architects RHWL have declined saying that the images produced over 18 months ago must suffice. This means that councillors will vote having no idea of the true visual impact of this two-football stadium sized structure.

Also up for approval is the resurrected idea of a canal across the top of the old palace terraces, which will act like a moat severing the Park in two. The council’s documents make clear this is to facilitate drainage from the multiplex

CPC spokesman Vivien Day commented: “Bromley Council officers say that their recommended approval concerns only “relatively minor changes” to the multiplex. In fact the charge of ‘dumbing down’ this month in The Architects’ Journal is now being borne out by the changes contemplated. We are no friend of the original design but the tacky changes being made show that L&RP are intent on leaving us with a low-quality product which will simply disfigure the area as well as destroying the Park”


Note to Editors: Bromley’s Development Control Committee meets at 7.30 pm on Tuesday, October 3 at Bromley Civic Centre.

Press Officer: Fred Emery 020 8761 0076 Mobile: 0794 117 2023
All Correspondence to: Hon Secretary, 33 HogarthCourt, Fountain Drive, London SE19 1UY
Recorded Information: 020 8653 5995 E-mail: fred@syre.demon.co.uk
Website: www.crystal.dircon.co.uk

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1 Oct 2000 Last updated 1 Oct 2000