Crystal Palace Park: the masterplan

I went to a very interesting meeting at the Penge Forum on the LDA masterplan for Crystal Palace Park last night.

The plans for the park look really exciting – I’m particularly interested in the ‘rooms’ and tree planting at the top space (where the park is all scrubby and horrible now), the removal of the massive car park which is just a honey pot for car thieves and vandals at the moment but most of all by the Energy Towers, the glasshouses which might have a cafĂ© in them and the tree top walk around my end of the park. I am intrigued by the idea of removing the fencing from the park and having it open, a la Blackheath, but only if it is adequately policed. I’m a little disappointed about the vagueness of the plans for the sports centre; the only mention of the Olympics that was made that there would be more money available afterwards and nothing about the potential for the site to be used as a training ground.

If we can get all this funded, it will be so exciting. It will make the park a local, regional and national resource. Such things as the energy towers and the tree top walkway would bring in international tourists – it could become a stop of the London mini-break trail and that would help not just the CP triangle but the economies and high streets of Penge, Anerley and Sydenham as well.

Of course, there is a possible price to pay in that a potential funding stream of £12m will mean that 1 acre of land where the current caravan club is (currently taking up about 4 acres) will have flats built on it and another three blocks of flats will be built on the site of the St John’s Ambulance building and the Rangers big ugly shed on Crystal Palace Park Road. My concern is that some of this land is technically Metropolitan Open Land and then the whole ‘thin end of the wedge’ turns into a slippery slope and before we know it there’ll be no park land at all. If I am honest, the land they are looking to build on is not parkland at the moment, is not really providing good value to Londoners and local people – I just wish it wasn’t MOL.

Frankly I won’t be sorry to see the Caravan site go – far from being any sort of resource for local people it has always seemed to me to be filled with tourists from outside of London getting straight on the No3 bus and heading into town. I’m not sure they spend any money in the CP triangle and certainly not in Sydenham or Penge!

If we can fund the improvements without building the flats then so be it, but only today, there has been discussion on the radio about the affordability of housing and the desperate shortage which is most acutely felt in London. I think, frankly, that more housing would be a better resource for London than a caravan park. I suspect the conclusion that I am coming to is that the land under question should not really be designated as MOL.

But what frustrated and irritated me most was the internecine warfare and arguments between the various groups claiming to represent various residents and interests, who took up half the audience and the vast majority of questions. Most of which were not questions but rants that they’d already given in a meeting the previous Friday and seemed to be concentrating on arguments that went on around who really defeated the multiplex and with how little money i.e. the past!!!! So, I only got time to ask a question on security measures if the park was opened up (as I chair the Crystal Palace Safer Neighbourhoods Residents Panel, it was my priority) and no time for a question about how we could contribute as a training ground for the Olympics.

Crystal Palace Park has been waiting for redevelopment for 80 years, let’s look to the future and please, please let’s get on with it!!!


James Graham said...
7 Jun 2007, 11:22:00

Haven't the Bromley Lib Dems turned it into a shopping mall yet? I thought only loony eco-warriors objected to their sensible plans, and that it was all inevitable?

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