Bromley Council’s scrapping of the massively opposed £75m Crystal Palace Park multiplex scheme was hailed at the weekend by leading politicians. Tessa Jowell, Minister for Labour in the Blair government, said it was “ wonderful news, more than we could possibly have hoped for”. For her Conservative election opponent in Dulwich & W Norwood, Nicholas Vineall it was “a quite fabulous result”, but, blaming Labour and John Prescott for not stopping the planning approval, he said “we cannot afford another development like the Crystal Palace multiplex”. Darren Johnson, GLA, London Mayor Ken Livingstone’s environment adviser, who has led the Mayor’s opposition to the scheme, commented that Bromley’s stated disappointment showed “they are still out of touch with the views of local people”. Johnson insisted that any future development for such a site would have to gain the Mayor’s approval.

Bromley’s sudden capitulation last Friday after a four-year battle shocked both the development industry and local government, as much as it delighted opponents. It ostensibly resulted from the terms of an agreement with the developer which had been kept secret. Until now developer London & Regional Properties Ltd (L&R) had insisted it had UCI cinemas as its major tenant and would be begin construction in October, once pending court challenges were completed.

But in Friday’s statement Bromley Council revealed that developer L&R had “failed to complete the lease within the prescribed period”; Bromley was terminating its development agreement and taking legal advice “including any claims the council may have against L&R”. L&R declined to comment.

Philip Kolvin, chairman of the Crystal Palace Campaign which for over four years has mobilised intense community opposition, taking actions to the highest courts and the European Commission, issued the following statement:

“Bromley’s capitulation is a victory for the local community, a tribute to the tens of thousands of people who stood together for what they knew to be right in the face of aggression and greed. I want Crystal Palace to stand as a symbol of what can be achieved when ordinary people unite. Let it be a lesson to those, be they councils or corporations who believe they can ignore the human voice. I say once more: parks are for people, they are the birthright of the citizen – as Bromley has learned to its, and its council taxpayers’ enormous expense.

The Crystal Palace Campaign will now be inviting the London Mayor, the five local authorities surrounding the park (including Bromley) and all local people to work together to plan a sustainable future for Crystal Palace Park: a future which recognises its environmental value, its precious historic past, and its residential environs. We trust that as the past four years have been bitter the next four will be sweet. As the old Palace burned, Winston Churchill said he mourned the end of an era. Now, we celebrate the start of a new era for Crystal Palace.”

Press Officer: Fred Emery 020 8761 0076 Mobile: 0794 117 202
All correspondence to: Hon Secretary, 33 HogarthCourt, Fountain Drive, London SE19 1U
E-mail: fred@syre.demon.co.uk Website: www.crystal.dircon.co.uk

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13/5/01 Last updated13/5/01