Crystal Palace Park strife could lead to legal action

Your Local Guardian: Future? An artists impression of the plans for the park Future? An artists impression of the plans for the park

Controversial approval of plans to build 180 flats in Crystal Palace Park have sparked community outrage - with one campaign group threatening legal action if the proposals go ahead.

The housing on the site of the Crystal Palace Caravan Club would help fund the £41m redevelopment of the historic park, approved by Bromley Council during a highly-charged meeting last month and since backed by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

But the Crystal Palace Community Association (CPCA) say the flats will devastate a valued area of Grade II listed parkland and contravene Mr Johnson’s own London development plan which states parkland should not be built upon.

Yet Mr Johnson has stated the flats - which contain no affordable housing - are acceptable because of the project's "unique circumstances" and the substantial benefits of the overall makeover of the park.

The London Development Agency’s (LDA) masterplan for the park,includes a new regional sports centre, 50m swimming pool, and a museum.

Mr Johnson had the power to change the masterplan, but approved it.

The Government’s office can still order the plans to be changed.

If the plans that include the flats are rubber-stamped, the CPCA says it will demand a public enquiry or judicial review, claiming such large-scale development in the park breeched local and national planning guidelines.

CPCA chairman John Payne said: “This is a totally ill-concieved and ill-thought out plan that’s unsustainable. It will damage the environment irreparably.

“Plans for 180 flats were at first presented as being a last resort, but now we’re being told that it’s vital to the whole Crystal Palace masterplan.”

Bromley Council said third parties do not have the right to appeal council planning decisions, but can approach the courts if they believe town planning policies and procedures have not been followed and the decision should be judicially reviewed.

More than 7,000 people signed an original petition objecting to proposals to build the flats, with more than 1,000 residents’ letters of objection logged during the planning application process.

A spokeswoman for the Caravan Club in Crystal Palace Parade said the decision to uproot them would be “detrimental” for the area.

The club attracts in excess of £750,000 of spending each year with local businesses, she said, and provided overnight accommodation for tourists and cash-strapped athletes visiting the sports facilities at Crystal Palace.

Speaking at last month’s planning meeting Mark Lloyd of the LDA said no plan to rescue the park could be without controversy.

A spokesman for Bromley Council said while the objections of the Caravan Club were considered, it had to determine the LDA masterplan upon the various relevant planning policies.

He said any appeal was not yet possible because the outline permission was still subject to a legal agreement and possible direction from central Government.

The LDA will be obliged to assist the Caravan Club to find a suitable alternative site, if the plans are approved.

What do you think of the plans to build flats in Crystal Palace Park? Comment in the space below.

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