Crystal Palace Park Consultation

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LDA CONSULTATION ON CRYSTAL PALACE PARK
Monday 18th July 2005 at Grove Centre House

The LDA has taken over responsibility for the National Sports Centre and have an option to take over complete responsibilty for Crystal Palace Park by 2009. The objective is to regenerate the Park to once again being a major focal point for South London.

The LDA is consulting widely with local communities and other interested parties in determining its plans. There was a large consultation held in the Park in September 2004 attended by over 2,500 people.

This event at the Grove Centre was aimed at reaching the people who were unable to make the Park event.

It looks like the leafleting for the meeting went very awry. Instead of the targetted Council Estates the invitations end up all over the place so the usual suspect wing of the Sydenham Society was in strong attendence. Indeed most people had taken part in the previous consultation.

However the night was not wasted as it gave everybody an opportunity to see how the LDA thinking had developed as a result of September’s feedback and the likely structure of the planning framework the LDA will be presenting to Bromley (the planning authority for CPP) in October.

Nigel Westaway (below) was the independent facilitator who chaired (standing) the event. This gave an opportunity not only for the LDA to present but the 20/30 audience to question and provide additional reaction to the ideas.

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The feedback and the LDA seems to have settled on ‘Option F’ as the preferred solution to the NSC problem. This option is that all the athletic indoor areas be regrouped under an expanded stadium complex. This concentration of facilities nearer the station and entrance would be easier for the sportspeople to access, security managed and allow the existing locally unloved but architectural interesting swimming/indoor athletics building to be demolished. It is grade 2* but the gain to the Park of freeing up the central area so allowing more natural access around the park may convince the guarantors, English Heritage, to come onside. The Sportsman Lodge and Tower block may also go.

You can see the new complex around the track on the plan (below) bottom centre. The car parks in the centre would also be moved close to the stadium making access easier and cutting out the rat runs across the park. It is hoped that the car park would use trees to create cover and reduce the visual impact on the views from the top of the Park. The area in the centre would be grassed and be available for major event overspill parking.

The dinosaur area (bottom right) would not have major changes except it is hope to make the fencing more user friendly, the cafe would be relocated on a platform extending over the lake and the children’s play area would also be relocated here. This frees up more area around the cricket pitch (top tight).

The elevated central walkway would also disappear to make one continuous central drive extend upwards (at about 1:20 for disabled users) from the penge Gate to the Lower Terraces.

The maze & performance areas (top centre) would continue. The redundant concrete sound towers either side of the stage would go (hurrah!). The stage itself is liked and disliked almost equally so will probably stay. The planting will be re-organised as some of it doesn’t work and is costly to maintain.

The shambles that is the area surrounding the caravan park and transmitter mast (top left) will be brought back into use and a major new gateway is planned. Concern was raised that this is fine but access across the road is currently hazardous and would have to be rethought.

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The LDA were unhappy with the current position of the Bus Station but because of difficulties relocating it – it will probably stay and may even be expanded slightly. The current entrance from Westow Hill will be replanned to give better vistas of the whole park.

Left to last was what to do with the Upper Terraces. No consensus had emerged and everybody is still awaiting a ‘good big idea’ which might unite the communities. That looks as though the LDA will put it on the back burner while they address the rest of the park. However they do hope to reopen the magnificent subway that connecyted the old Palace to the old station.

It looks like the LDA will exercise it option to take over the whole park well before 2009 and we may see the first fruits of regeneration by that date. This would fit in with the East London Line Extension (ELLX) which will have a terminus at Crystal Palace Station by 2010 and put the whole complex in good shape to act as a training camp and base for some of the Olympic teams in 2012.

What next? LDA submit the planning framework to Bromley in October folowed by another consultation. Because there are some major changes from the Bromley UDP (urban development plan), the listing challenges and navigating the various Acts of Parliament that govern the park this will be a crucial period. But if successful it could be the birth of a new Park for next 125 years of the LDA’s stewardship.

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