China syndrome is a blight for Crystal Palace Park

ANDREW PELLING reports on (yet another) consultation on the future of the much-loved but much-neglected Crystal Palace Park

Sometimes, politicians and public bodies can overdo consultations with the public, especially if their motivation is procrastination or the pretence of public involvement in public policy decisions.

The dinosaur models in Crystal Palace Park, some of the last remaining remnants of Paxton's original glass pavilion, but in need of some TLC

The dinosaur models in Crystal Palace Park, some of the last remaining remnants of Paxton’s original glass pavilion, but in need of some TLC

There is yet another consultation taking place this week on possible spending on the long neglected Crystal Palace Park.

I took the 197 to the Penge entrance to the park yesterday. There, I viewed the second of three consultation day displays of proposals for possible improvements to bits of the park.
The presentations are being run by volunteers on behalf of the Mayor of London and Bromley Council. Another presentation takes place on Saturday (from 11am to 4pm) at the information centre near the Thicket Road entrance. It is possible, though, to take part in the consultation online. I would urge Inside Croydon’s loyal reader to take part.

The consultation is a good deal more sedate than the chaotic consultation which Arup felt obliged to stage earlier this year. The lack of any clear plans for a new Crystal Palace under the investment of the ZhongRong Group made Arup’s task very hard that day, as they dealt with an overwhelming number of concerned or curious residents.

It is notable that we have not had any further announcements or grandstanding from the park’s terraces this week about the £500million ZhongRong Palace proposal by Mayor Boris, the Prime Minister or the Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, who is in this country on an official state and trade visit. 

This suggests to me that the deal is going nowhere.

That’s a concern when the uncertain project is acting as a blight in dealing with the park’s long-term neglect. Snatching at the Chinese option was a sign of how the park’s needs have not been sustainably addressed and City Hall should recognise this China syndrome and drop the glass palace idea.

There is £2.4 million held in the Mayor’s kitty for Crystal Palace Park. In such a big and significant park, that is going to have a modest impact, but it’s a start. The choices for spend revolve around moving cars, improving disabled access, improving heritage items – such as the dinosaurs – or improving facilities like the concert bowl to increase activities in the park. There is more detail here.

What is clear in my mind is that it’s time for Boris to get off the pot and start spending the money.

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1 Response to China syndrome is a blight for Crystal Palace Park

  1. davidcallam says:

    I have completed the consultation, as suggested.
    I assume Boris Johnson would argue that there is no point spending money piecemeal if there is still the chance of a major investment.
    However, I happily defer to Andrew’s reading of the political situation and if he thinks the Chinese deal is a dead duck, we need to make a sustainable plan to bring the park back to a decent standard of maintenance and then keep it there.

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