Billionaire’s £500m plan to rebuild The Crystal Palace on original site unveiled

PUBLISHED: 12:08 03 October 2013 | UPDATED: 17:13 03 October 2013

The original Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire in 1936. Picture: PA Wire

The original Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire in 1936. Picture: PA Wire

Chinese billionaire, Ni Zhaoxing, was joined by Boris Johnson to unveil his plans for rebuilding the Crystal Palace on its original site this morning.

An aerial view of how The Crystal Palace will look once completed.An aerial view of how The Crystal Palace will look once completed.

Leader of Bromley Council, Cllr Stephen Carr, joined the men in Crystal Palace Park where the £500million plans were officially launched.

The construction will look almost identical to the original, but with a few 21st Century twists.

Mr Ni, director of ZhongRong Holdings, says he wants to make the palace “more beautiful” and spoke of the project as an art work.

He said: “I’m a collector. I want to make Crystal Palace a jewel in the crown for the UK and for the world.

“It should be an artistic place, and it must be an art work of construction itself.”

The mayor of London spoke passionately about the project, which he described as a “brilliant, original and simple vision to recreate the palace in the 21st Century.”

Mr Johnson went on to allay fears of foreign investment in the area by reminding people that the original Crystal Palace was such a success that it paid for the creation of the Science, Natural History and Victoria and Albert Museums.

He also added: “This is a beautiful idea, it’s not an act of nostalgia.

“Let’s not forget that if it wasn’t for American investors funded by a German bank there wouldn’t be an Underground.”

The project could see construction start as early as December 2015, with a planning application expected to be submitted this time next year.

Once completed, scheduled for 2018, the site is expected to provide around 1,000 jobs.

Mr Ni went on to tell those gathered in the park that both his daughters have studied in England for 10 years, and he himself has visited the park around 10 times.

He stressed his project will not just benefit him, but the entire local community.

“I love London just as much as I love China,” he said. “People ask me what’s the reward will be for me.

“The reason for having a child is not a reward, but to pass something on to the next generation.

“It’s like I’m planting a tree.”

Though handshakes and smiles dominated the morning, there was a spattering of protesters with banners suggesting parks are not for profit.

Protestor Jessica Cahill, of Crystal Palace, said: “This is a commercial development being encouraged on public land.

“The palace is gone and this isn’t derelict land, it’s green space and it was before the palace was originally built.”

Plans unveiled today will not include local housing, and could see the removal of parking from the park.

Cllr Stephen Carr believes this is a good thing, and also stated that he local areas can only thrive under the new palace.

“The area ins reasonably thriving already, it’s quite vibrant but this can only help.

“There will be 1,000 jobs, and significant visitor numbers can only help. It really will be important for the south east of London as a whole.”

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