The proposed 15 to 20 year timescale for the redevelopment of Crystal Palace Park has been criticised by residents and businesses who say a whole generation will have grown up by the time the park is complete.

Despite the London Development Agency (LDA) insisting the timescale will enable large parts of the park to remain open during the work, many have pointed out that in 20 years time people's views of what they would like to see there will have changed.

Sue Nagle, chairman of Triangle Traders, said: "By then Ken Livingstone won't be in power, the Olympics will no longer be the drive and who knows what will be in the park.

"What is in this masterplan is just not guaranteed. It's not worth the paper it's written on. People are being asked to give their opinions on people's ideas - nothing is based on fact."

The length of the project is being blamed partly on a lease for part of the park earmarked for a development of homes.

It took Joseph Paxton just two years, from 1852 to 1854, to create one of the world's most famous parks.

It took a further two years for Isambard Kingdom Brunel to overcome enormous technical problems to erect the two massive towers that fed the park's 11,788 water jets. They did all this in four years with Victorian technology at a cost of £500,000.

In the same length of time, and at a cost of £5million, the LDA has carried out a public consultation and drawn up plans to submit to Bromley Council. It then plans to take up to 20 more years to implement a far less ambitious scheme.

An LDA spokesman said: "The long time scale is not only because the park is so large, but is due to the masterplan being implemented in a phased development, minimising the impact on the park, and maintaining public access to as much land as possible.

"The phased development also maximises the opportunity of discovering complementary funding streams as the project develops."

The park masterplan is due to be submitted to Bromley Council in the autumn.

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