London Assembly debates Crystal Palace Park

Following years of scrutiny and standing up for our area, Darren Johnson got the support of the London Assembly for the Mayor of London to stop meddling with Crystal Palace Park and get behind the local community. Members from all political parties criticised the Mayor’s approach to date.

You can watch the debate here:

In the end, all Green, Labour and Lib Dem members voted in favour of the motion, and Conservatives either abstained (Steve O’Connell) or voted against (the rest).

The motion reads:

This Assembly notes the GLA’s recent projects for Crystal Palace Park, including: the collapsed deal with the ZhongRong Group to build a major commercial development on the hill top of Crystal Palace Park, which the Mayor secretly brokered following the London 2012 Games without the involvement of local stakeholder groups; its draft plans to radically redevelop the National Sports Centre and grounds with a significant loss of sporting facilities, which only involved the local sporting community after significant protest; and the park’s designation, without a clear rationale, in the London Plan as an Outer London Development Centre.

This Assembly notes that the Mayor is continuing to pursue secretive discussions with companies regarding building on the park’s hill top, and believes he risks repeating the mistakes of the ZhongRong Group proposals, which resulted in the loss of £4.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and eighteen wasted months during which community projects were suspended.

This Assembly also welcomes that the local community is progressing plans for a Crystal Palace Neighbourhood Forum, and that Bromley Council is working with local stakeholders to establish a community trust to govern Crystal Palace Park.

This Assembly therefore calls on the Mayor to end any private discussions about proposals for development on the park, and engage openly and transparently with the emerging community trust and Neighbourhood Forum in developing any future projects for the park and wider area.

We have been arguing for a number of years that the future of Crystal Palace Park has to be decided by a community trust, with representatives from all five surrounding boroughs and the sports community, and people with a focus on the park’s international heritage status.

It’s not good enough that Bromley Council can decide the park’s future, without meaningful input from residents in the other four surrounding boroughs. They are now recognising this with the plans to try and develop a community trust.

But the Mayor of London and the GLA continue to treat our park as their own private regeneration project. Darren, a Green Party Member of the London Assembly, discovered they are still holding private discussions with private companies about building on the park, and the Mayor refused to tell him who those companies were. The GLA is also continuing to develop its plans for the future of the National Sports Centre behind closed doors, rather than in partnership with the local sports and park stakeholder groups.

We hope the London Assembly backs this call for the Mayor to back off.