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Protestors flock to oppose plan for Palace park

PUBLISHED: 12:12 16 July 2009 | UPDATED: 09:17 12 August 2010

SCORES of residents turned out to hear evidence at an inquiry into controversial plans for a historic park. Supporters and objectors have been hearing arguments for and against the London Development Agency s (LDA) £67 million plans to redevelop Crystal

SCORES of residents turned out to hear evidence at an inquiry into controversial plans for a historic park.

Supporters and objectors have been hearing arguments for and against the London Development Agency's (LDA) £67 million plans to redevelop Crystal Palace Park since last Tuesday at the Salvation Army Hall in Westow Street, Upper Norwood.

It is expected to last for five weeks.

Bromley council granted planning permission, which included building 180 homes on open metropolitan land, in December last year.

But 8,000 signatures against the proposals led Local Government Minister Hazel Blears to call the plans in and appoint a planning inspector to hold an inquiry.

Last Wednesday, LDA landscape architect Johanna Gibbons described how she believed the LDA's proposals would restore the park to its "former splendour".

Talking on plans for the Palace Terrace, she said: "We want to show off the grandeur of the top palace terrace. We would have open walkways. Promenading was a very important part of the plans. It was important to have a place to meet people in a very beautiful setting and relax and enjoy the long view."

Other plans include bringing the café on the same level as the lake to enhance the views, playgrounds for teenagers and younger children, and the planting of native and exotic trees.

Speaking about the English landscape, the area that stretches from Rockhills in the north of the Park eastwards down to the fishing lake and surrounding woodland, she said: "It is a beautiful part of the park. It gives you an inkling of what the whole park could be.

"There is a special quality to the area, its topography and its rolling landscape. Some of the trees have been there since the time of Paxton."

Ms Gibbons also said the park could be used for large and small events, adding: "Extraordinary events have happened in the park in the past 100 years. There will be a number of different zones for events. There is the possibility of using the cricket ground for smaller festivals."

But the Joseph Paxton Society and the Crystal Palace Park Association are firmly against the building of flats, believing it could lead to the sale off other metropolitan parkland.

The flats would help fund the overall restoration of the parkland but Crystal Palace Community Association (CPCA) chairman, John Payne, said: "Selling the land off to housing developers will set a precedent across the whole of the UK whereby developers swallow up our park spaces."

katherine.nelson@archant.co.uk

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