An appeal court decision to allow “luxury apartments” to be built in Crystal Palace Park could see parkland up and down the country subject to speculative development, according to a concerned London Assembly Member.
Earlier this week, three Lords of Appeal found against the Crystal Palace Community Association’s application to halt any flat-building on the park as proposed under a development “Masterplan” from Bromley Council. The scheme allows developers to build on the park, in return for meeting the costs of other improvements in the area.
The legal decision could have immediate ramifications in Croydon, where the council wants to build a new academy secondary school on Metropolitan Open Land.
“I fear the court’s decision will set a precedent that will encourage inappropriate development on all public parks and green open spaces,” warned Darren Johnson, a Green party London Assembly Member.
Johnson’s concerns are widely shared, by local residents’ groups and national conservation bodies.
Donald Mitchell, of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, said, “Whilst we recognise the need to improve Crystal Palace Park, we are very concerned where the legal protection on a Grade II* Listed, Municipal Open Space and Conservation Area comes under threat.
“These sites are protected for the benefit of local communities, and more widely, noting the considerable environmental and heritage services they provide, other parks, such as Dulwich and Battersea, have been regenerated without the down-scaling of the green space.
“We ask Bromley Council to ensure that approval of the Masterplan does not result in further incursion on to this important asset for London.”
The Open Spaces Society has also expressed its worries about the permanent damage to Crystal Palace Park, which has much historic resonance, having been the site of the Crystal Palace building developed by Sir Joseph Paxton for the Great Exhibition in 1851. The building was subsequently moved to Sydenham and re-assembled, remaining a major London feature until a savage fire in 1936.
“We are deeply disappointed that this important appeal has been rejected. Crystal Palace Park is of national importance and it would be tragic if it was to be exploited for commercial gain,” Kate Ashbrook, the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, said.
The local community association, which has fought the development through the courts until this week, is taking some consolation in a revised plan for the park, drawn up by the Great London Authority and Bromley, and does not include building of luxury flats.
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