Crystal Palace Park

Bromley Council has recently announced that its exclusivity agreement with the Zhong Rong Group in relation to Crystal Palace Park has elapsed without a deal being reached. The announcement said that Bromley Council will continue to negotiate with Zhong Rong, but will also welcome approaches from other developers who are interested in this site.  In my view, the announcement once again demonstrates that Bromley Council is taking entirely the wrong approach to Crystal Palace Park.

The survey work which my Council colleagues Cllr Andy Simmons and Cllr Jon Hartley undertook of residents' views on the Zhong Rong proposals indicated that most residents were not completely opposed to the idea of a building being developed on the site of the former Crystal Palace, along Crystal Palace Parade.  However, our community is very concerned that any development in this area should be appropriate in its size and scale, complementary to the businesses within the Triangle and most importantly should reflect local needs and aspirations for an important and beautiful historic park.  There is currently no planning policy context for a large commercial building to be developed in an area which is designated Metropolitan Open Land, a very strong planning policy protection, equivalent to Green Belt.

Instead of continuing to negotiate behind closed doors, or putting the park on the open market, Bromley Council should engage with local residents and businesses on all sides of the park to develop a vision which reflects local views, needs and aspirations. A good starting point would be the masterplan for Crystal Palace Park which was developed through a detailed collaboration with the communities which surround the park and has been through a process of democratic approval, although it relied on funding to deliver it which is unfortunately no longer available.  Bromley Council and Boris Johnson should revisit the masterplan, look again at the sources of funding which could help to deliver it, and devise an incremental approach to delivery, so that we can start to make progress right away.  Only once we have a shared vision for the site of the former Crystal Palace should Bromley seek partners to help deliver the vision for our park.