The handover of Crystal Palace Park from Bromley Council to the Crystal Palace Park Trust will not now be completed on April 1, as had been planned, but is to be “phased” over the course of the next six months.
According to a joint statement issued on behalf of the council and the Trust, the delay and the reultant phasing is because of “the complexities of the park”. Translated into plain English, it seems that Bromley has yet to complete all of the works it was supposed to undertake before getting the park off their hands.
The full handover, the Trust and council say, is “expected to be completed by September, rather than by April as initially targeted”.
The handover of the Grade II*-listed park has been years in the planning, moving a precious, city-wide asset from the control of a (largely disinterested) borough council into the hands of a charitable trust, formed by local residents, which has to pay its way through making its prime asset – the park itself – generate cash from public events and activities.
The 200-acre park was created in 1854, as a pleasure ground around the original Crystal Palace. Previously operated by the GLC, Crystal Palace Park has been in the hands of Bromley since 1986. The borough council is giving the Trust a 125-year lease on one of the capital’s most important public spaces.
The handover process will begin on April 1, through, according to the Trust, “a lease to the iconic Concert Platform, representing a milestone in the wider Regeneration Plan”.
The Crystal Palace Bowl, venue for hundreds of nights of concerts through the 1960s and into the 1980s, is about to undergo a resurgence, after the stage area – known affectionately as “the rusty laptop” – underwent extensive refurbishment.
The Trust says, “The Concert Platform will be reactivated as a community events and performance space under the management of the Trust, which follows the recent renovation of the stage through the community-led #BackTheBowl campaign.
“Following several years of successful collaboration with the council, the entire Park will then transfer to the Trust as previously agreed later in the year, in an arrangement designed to ensure effective sustainable long-term management of the Park under the regeneration plan.
Philip Kolvin KC, the Trust’s co-chair, described his organisation’s task as “a profound responsibility”. And Martin Tempia, the long-standing co-chair of the Trust, said: “We have worked incredibly hard to prepare for the handover and look forward to starting this process in April by receiving the Concert Platform and bringing it back into regular use.”
The Concert Platform and its interior will be available for hire, with reduced rates for community and park user groups. Pop-up and planned community uses will occur throughout 2023.
Bromley Council is progressing with the “Regeneration Plan” for the park, which includes a number of capital works, including “the restoration of the world-famous dinosaurs, creating a new event space on the Lower Italian Terrace, and numerous improvements to the park’s facilities and green spaces”.
Meanwhile, as part of the takeover, the Trust has secured new maintenance contractors. “Sustainability is a driving theme in the Trust’s new maintenance specifications, with reduced reliance of fossil fuels, increasing recycling rates, grassland management that improves biodiversity, green waste being composted and reused on site, and perennials and wildflowers in key locations.”
The Trust will retain concessions within the park, including ice cream, pedalos and the Sunday Market.
It is also recruiting, with job vacancies being advertised or about to be advertised for Director of Development, Manager of Community Engagement, Senior Park Officer, Senior Events Officer, Communications Officer and Administrative Officer.
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Isn’t September 2023 also when the restoration works on the (awesome) Crystal Palace Subway are due to be completed? I guess that is part of what the Park Trust will control?