On Sunday 1st February the exclusivity agreement between Bromley Council and the ZhongRong Group will come to an end, sixteen months after it was signed, with no public indication of a deal to date from either party. We are calling on Bromley Council and the GLA to end talks with the ZhongRong Group and shelve plans to build a major commercial facility on Crystal Palace Park.
Dubbed a ‘rebuild’ of the original Palace, the plans would most likely have resulted in a large hotel, conference centre, trading floors and some unspecified cultural attractions, with the land sold on a long lease to the private developer, built on top of a biodiverse area of grade II heritage listed public parkland.
Tom Chance, Green Party Parliamentary candidate for the constituency containing the park (Lewisham West & Penge) said:
“The idea of building a huge hotel and conference centre on our park was wrong, the consultation process was hopeless, and the consequences have included community groups blocked from improving our park, the loss of millions of pounds of lottery funding, and a huge amount of anger and resentment among local people.
“Bromley and the GLA need to stop messing around with fantasy projects and send the ZhongRong Group packing. If they set-up a Community Land Trust to govern the park’s future, this could find viable ways to implement the adopted masterplan incrementally without losing large areas of the park to private ownership and commercial buildings. The council could also work with local environmental groups to turn the scrub and woodland on the hill top into a popular local nature reserve within the next six months, instead of denigrating it as a waste of space and trying to concrete it over.”
Community groups had been undertaking works such as restoration and protection work on the sphinxes, and attempts to improve cycling access, but these and other projects had to stop while the exclusivity agreement was in place.
In January 2014 the Heritage Lottery Fund rejected an application from Bromley, the GLA and local groups for £4.5m because of the uncertainty created by the ZhongRong plans.
We also want the GLA to take a more co-ordinated approach to the park, and to re-open discussions with the local community and the Crystal Palace Sports Partnership about the future of the National Sports Centre, following a flawed consultation process.
Read our full position statement on the future of the park.