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Historic park will be neglected for years'

PUBLISHED: 17:15 22 April 2009 | UPDATED: 10:50 12 August 2010

AN HISTORIC park will be neglected for years to come after the London Mayor s development agency refused to take over its lease, according to Green Party members.

AN HISTORIC park will be neglected for years to come after the London Mayor's development agency refused to take over its lease, according to Green Party members.

The London Development Agency (LDA), headed up by Boris Johnson, had until March 31 to take control of Crystal Palace Park, owned by Bromley council.

But the LDA, which has taken a lease on the National Sports Centre and the stadium, claims it isn't necessary for them to take over the lease on the park to support its development.

London Assembly Green Party member, Darren Johnson, said: "Boris Johnson is contradicting himself by running a competition to enhance London's parks whilst at the same time jeopardising the restoration of this park, especially after his economic development agency, the LDA spent more than £5 million in creating its plans.

"Bromley council has neglected this park for years and plans to transfer it the LDA gave a real hope of restoring Crystal Palace to its former glory. It is a unique park and the jewel in south London's crown."

Bromley council approved the LDA's planning application for housing on the historic parkland on December 9 last year but the decision was called in by the Secretary of State, Hazel Blears, after 8,000 residents signed petitions against the proposals.

Campaigners are claiming a small victory believing there is less chance of its application succeeding after the LDA declined to take on the lease but they still fear for the park's future.

Crystal Palace Park Association chairman, John Payne, said: "It has undoubtedly weakened their position because it shows their lack of commitment. But now we are worried that in order for Bromley council to fund the park it will sell off part of the publicly owned land to commercial developers which would be worse than the housing."

A spokesperson for the LDA said: "We have demonstrated our commitment to Crystal Palace Park over the past five years, since it took ownership of the sports centre.

"We will be supporting the Master Plan application at the forthcoming public inquiry. Ownership of the park is not a pre-requisite for LDA to support the regeneration of the park and we are working with Bromley council and neighbouring boroughs to find a way to take forward the vision of a restored and rejuvenated the park."

A spokesperson for Bromley council said: "We are disappointed that the LDA chose not to exercise its option to take up the lease of Crystal Palace Park before it expired.

"We will continue to manage and operate the park, business as usual. We are continuing discussions with the LDA and surrounding boroughs about the future."

katherine.nelson@archant.co.uk

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