Boris owes Crystal Palace apology over botched vanity project

London’s Tory Mayor Boris Johnson should apologise to the people of Croydon and Crystal Palace for the failure of his vanity project in the popular public park, following the failure of his preferred Chinese developers ZhongRong Group to act within the period of their exclusivity agreement.

The stuff of Boris Johnson's dreams (and Crystal Palace residents' nightmares)

The stuff of Boris Johnson’s dreams (and Crystal Palace residents’ nightmares)

That’s the view of a local Green Party campaigner, Tom Chance, a week after the expiry of a deadline set by Bromley Council for ZhongRong to pay a £5 million deposit to maintain its preferred developer status, and a month after the expiration of an exclusivity deal which has left the Johnson-brokered scheme, negotiated with leading Conservative Party donors on behalf of the Chinese, dead in the water.

Chance describes the ZhongRong proposal to build a gigantic replica of the original Crystal Palace on the top site of the Grade II-listed park as a “ridiculous proposal”.

“Park users will be delighted to hear that this deal has finally fallen through,” said Chance, the Green Party’s parliamentary candidate for Lewisham West and Penge, one of the constituencies which converge on Crystal Palace.

Bromley Council estimates the cost of dealing with the ZhongRong negotiations as at least £100,000, but locals and Crystal Palace Park have also lost out on a £4.5 million Lottery grant as a consequence of the uncertainty created by the London Mayor’s promoting of the ZhongRong scheme.

“I think the Mayor owes Crystal Palace an apology for keeping community groups out of the park for 16 months, and losing £4.5 million in lottery funding, while entertaining this ridiculous proposal,” Chance said yesterday.

“The GLA and Bromley council now need to get back to working with the local community to implement the masterplan, which recognises that the park is a green lung for the local community, an important sports venue for London and the south east, and an internationally important heritage site, not a building site.”

Read the Inside Croydon archive on the whole, “ridiculous” saga:


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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5 Responses to Boris owes Crystal Palace apology over botched vanity project

  1. Peter Rogers says:

    Perhaps now Boris’ chum Lord Coe won’t need to bulldoze Crystal Palace Arena although sadly not in time to save any credibility he had as Lord High Protector of the Olympic Legacy. Or is that a different landgrab scheme altogether?

  2. Peter Rogers says:

    As someone who hangs on Inside Croydon’s every word I can only apologise for missing that report. But it is of course worth mentioning Lord Coe selling out athletics and the Olympic Legacy at any opportunity…

  3. whitgiftavenue says:

    I’d forgo an apology if Mayor Johnson could explain why a Chinese company, who had never undertaken a project outside China and had built only a handful of buildings in China, was felt to be worthy of being gifted a Grade II listed London Park.

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