A senior member of the London Assembly has attacked Boris Johnson for showing “outrageous contempt for local democracy” by supporting a Chinese billionaire’s plans to build a replica Crystal Palace on public parkland.
The only real surprise is that Assembly Member Darren Johnson seems surprised.
Darren Johnson is a London-wide Assembly Member from the Green Party. He is the chair of the London Assembly and also chairs the housing committee at City Hall.
Today, in a column in the Grauniad newspaper, Darren Johnson accuses the Old Etonian London Mayor of (not for the first time) taking the side of big business over that of ordinary Londoners on the matter of the £500 million scheme to build a 21st century version of the Crystal Palace.
Darren Johnson says that he worried that the scheme could threaten a £7.5 million Heritage Lottery grant, awarded to local groups for their work restoring the original Crystal Palace’s terracing and statues and the nearby subways.
Assembly Member Johnson writes that London Mayor Johnson “has backed a Chinese developer who wants to create a ‘world-class landmark’ without any meaningful involvement from the community”. The image of local residents being kept away from the breakfast announcement that was made by Chinese businessman Ni Zhaoxing, with BoJo grinning at his side, will long last as a metaphor for the London Mayor’s style of public engagement.
“During the press conference the developer told the press that he was in talks with the government, the Greater London Authority and Bromley council to get around restrictions on development,” Darren Johnson writes.
“The consultative group that Bromley council has worked with in recent years very politely complained about being kept in the dark about these new plans.
“Excluding these people shows outrageous contempt for local democracy.”
As Darren Johnson highlights, the announcement is very much a case of “here we go again” for Crystal Palace residents, many of whom campaigned against a scheme to use the same site for “an ugly multiplex cinema”.
“Many of the objections that myself and local people had about the multiplex cinema scheme, the loss of open space, the huge impact on traffic and the damage to the local economy, will probably apply just as much to this scheme as to the multiplex plans we fought so hard against 13 years ago,” Darren Johnson writes.
“While I’m sure many people would love to see the Crystal Palace raised from the ashes, this precious parkland is no longer the right place for it.”
Coming to Croydon
- Rent at the Secombe Theatre: Oct 9-12
- Debate the future of arts in Croydon: Oct 10
- Croydon and Sutton Real Ale Festival, Oct 10-12
- Stanley Lives – open day in South Norwood: Oct 12
- Trafficked – slavery on the screen: Oct 14
- Crystal Palace Concerts – “I have a dream”: Thu Oct 17
- Lakes Playground group’s fundraising Zumba-ween: Oct 26
- PJ’s enterprising look at Black History Month: Oct 29
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
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- First look at new plans to restore Crystal Palace exhibition centre to its former glory (standard.co.uk)
- Boris Johnson: ‘I don’t know how much a pint of milk costs. So what?’ (london24.com)
- Boris tells Assembly Member to ‘get stuffed’ as he defends fire cuts (london24.com)