Park protectors claim victory over home planners

PUBLISHED: 17:16 04 February 2009 | UPDATED: 11:19 12 August 2010

CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating after controversial plans to build apartments on public parkland were recalled by the Secretary of State in a highly

CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating after controversial plans to build apartments on public parkland were recalled by the Secretary of State in a 'highly unusual' move.

Members of the Crystal Palace Park Association (CPCA) have been told that Bromley council received a letter last Wednesday (28) saying Hazel Blears would personally review plans to build five-storey blocks of 180 apartments in Crystal Palace Park.

Despite over 7,000 objections, Bromley council gave the London Development Agency (LDA) the go ahead in December to replace the camping and caravan site at Rockhills with five-storey high blocks of 140 apartments along with six blocks of up to 40 apartments on Crystal Palace Park near the cricket pitch.

Chairman of CPCA, John Payne, said: "We are encouraged that the Secretary of State has called the application in, recognising the contentiousness of an application including building houses on protected parkland. For the first time proper scrutiny may now be applied to the LDA application."

The Government Office sent the letter which read: "The Secretary of State is of the opinion that this application is one that she ought to decide herself because she considers that the proposal may conflict with national and regional policies on important matters."

Manager of Bromley council's major developments planning team, Chris Evans, said he could only recall one other instance of a planning application being called in.

He said: "This is a highly unusual move. Obviously we approved the plans so it is a bit disappointing that the Secretary of State wants to make the decision herself, which is perfectly within her powers, because we thought we had got it right, but it is not unexpected.

"This application is one that affects people from four boroughs so there are a lot of people who have a stake in it."

The CPCA has put persistent pressure on Bromley council not grant permission for the £67.5million masterplan, the largest the council has ever received and Mr Evans said he believed the Secretary of State had considered their lobbying when she called the application in.

A public inquiry will be held by a Government appointed Inspector. The final decision will be made by Hazel Blears.

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