Massive new plans lodged for Crystal Palace Park

PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 March 2020

The work could see a new 'hub' created at the park's National Sport Centre. Picture: Bexley Council

The work could see a new 'hub' created at the park's National Sport Centre. Picture: Bexley Council


It has endured fire, Nazi bombing raids, and decades worth of lapsed plans and failed ideas.

An artist's impression of how the Rockhills Homes could appear. Picture: Bexley CouncilAn artist's impression of how the Rockhills Homes could appear. Picture: Bexley Council

Now the latest bid to secure the future of Crystal Palace Park has been lodged, highlighted by a scheme to build more than 200 homes including luxury villas to fund its massive overhaul.

Bromley Council, which has managed the park since it was handed to it in 1986, last month submitted nearly 200 documents outlining their plans for the colossal regeneration of the park.

The latest move comes as the most recently approved master plan, which was accepted by Bromley Council in 2010 and contained £67m worth of proposed works, nears its expiration date in December.

The grand schemes contained in that plan were never realised due to a lack of funding, something the latest proposal looks to rectify by building and selling off a raft of new housing at the park.

The location of the two housing developments proposed under the new plans. Picture: Bexley CouncilThe location of the two housing developments proposed under the new plans. Picture: Bexley Council

Under the wide-ranging plans, 210 homes split between two hubs off the Crystal Palace Park Road would be built.

While the 2010 plans had included permission for the two developments, the most recent proposal has beefed them up from the 180 homes offered a decade ago.

The latest proposal would see 70 permanent homes built at Sydenham, at the site currently occupied by a preschool nursery, St John's Ambulance, and the park's maintenance depot.

According to the project's planning statement, the homes would be built throughout six blocks with each having a maximum of four-storeys, together with 43 new car parking spaces.

The remaining 140 would be built at Rockhills on the current site of the Crystal Palace Caravan Club.

Those homes would be scattered through two blocks ranging up to five-storeys in height, with 84 car parking spaces accompanying them.

The new homes are just one aspect of the massive overhaul, which will be subject to further public consultation over the coming year.

Chairman of the Crystal Palace Foundation, Melvin Harrison, indicated the group would soon be making detailed representations on the proposals.

"Our very initial thoughts are there are good bits in it and some bad bits," Mr Harrison said.

He added that "literally dozens, probably hundreds" of proposals have been made for the park since the Second World War.

Few of these have been approved or followed through, to the point where Mr Harrison said Joseph Paxton, the man who designed the site more than 100 years ago, wouldn't be overwhelmed by his surroundings if he saw the park in its current state.

"If Joseph Paxton came back today, he probably wouldn't see that much of a difference," Mr Harrison quipped.

He predicted the housing aspect would become "a bit of a sore point" with respondents, as well as the loss of the park's caravan site.

"It's a very popular site used by thousands of people a year, literally from all four corners of the world," he said of the caravan club.

As it stands, the club currently has a lease with the council running until October 19 this year, following the authority's decision in 2018 to postpone the 2010 plans for the site.

None of the housing proposed in the latest round is affordable; with the units to be sold off at market price to fund regeneration work, according to the project's planning statement.

"The proposed housing is being developed as enabling development which will make the restoration of, and improvements to CPP, possible," the statement says, adding the park's "scale, complex landscape and significant number of damaged heritage features remain a challenge" for Bromley Council.

The new homes wouldn't be the only new development at the site, with a new 'cultural venue' proposed at the Crystal Palace Subway for use as a museum.

A new community centre would also be built at the Rockhills housing development, while new structures at the Capel Manor College Anerley Hill Site and the Capel Manor College Farm Site have been proposed.

The overhaul would see a raft of demolition take place as well, with the outline plans including knocking down the nursery near Sydenham Gate; the St Johns Ambulance building on Crystal Palace Park Road; buildings at the Caravan Club; and the Crystal Palace Park Information Centre, which would be rebuilt elsewhere.

Further work could see a major facelift for the park's National Sports Centre, which would include rerouting paths and revamping the site to make it more welcoming, visually attractive and easier to navigate.

The plans are the latest attempt to secure the park's future.

More than £2.5m in park improvements funded by Bromley Council, Historic England, and the Mayor of London were completed in May last year, with work including the building of a new skatepark, the conservation of some Grade-I listed dinosaurs, and the building of a new cafe.

In February, Bromley Council voted in favour of directing £3.141m of funding from the London Mayor's office to revitalise the Crystal Palace Subway.

Last week, Historic England announced it added the dinosaur statues, which date back to the mid-1850s, to its "at risk" register.

Full plans for the site can be seen by visiting Bromley Council's planning portal with the application reference of 20/00325/OUT.

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