The archived pdf Newsletters (1 to 81) were edited by Dr Martin Heath as superviser of the Belair Project, and include attributed contributions by others. Some have been reconfigured here as blog posts for ease of browsing and viewing. (An archive of the original PDFs is available here.) More recent newsletters are posted below.
FOBP have been hard at work since the AGM in November, and recount here their efforts and news including the Crystal Palace Park fall-out
Since the Annual General Meeting late last year, the Friends have been hard at work, liaising with Southwark councillors and officers to improve your Park and working also in defence of other local green spaces. We have a backlog of news, much of it concerning the aftermath of the flood relief works, and we shall be bringing you this in a series of bulletins of which this is the first.
Before we get down to the ultra-parochial issues, such as puddles on the paths and our continuing wildlife work, here’s an update on our role in the push to secure ecologically sound options for the Crystal Palace Park hill top. Please do take a look at the report which we have prepared and circulated. A local school has already indicated its willingness to become involved in management of the site – should Bromley ever agree.
Developer’s attempted land grab in Crystal Palace Park has failed.
As you may have heard, Chinese company ZhongRong has abandoned its attempt to get control of the hill top and adjacent areas of Crystal Palace Park for a giant development described only through vague or misleading media releases. ZhongRong, stated the Leader of Bromley Council, had failed to understand what could and could not be delivered legally in the UK. In the end, it was Bromley (thanks, Bromley) that delivered the death blow to the too-greedy plan-that-dare-not-speak-its-name. Bromley set a February 19, 2015 deadline for ZhongRong to come up with actual details of its scheme, but ZhongRong failed to comply. Game over! Like the hotel and the multiplex schemes before it, this presumptive and top-heavy scheme had collapsed back into a void of unanswered questions, including whether it was even viable in principle and how to avoid causing catastrophic traffic congestion.
This was an issue directly involving Belair Park. A building comparable in size to Joseph Paxton’s 1854 Crystal Palace could have been seen from Belair, and would have loomed down over the landscapes of Dulwich and West Norwood, where most park-users live. Also, our members have worked hard and successfully to enhance ecology in Belair Park, knowing that this will have positive effects in other parts of the network of wildlife corridors of which Belair is a part. The loss of valuable tree cover in Crystal Palace Park would have diminished the ecological status of the network.
Proud to have spoken out for democracy. While we were waiting in vain for ZhongRong to actually produce a solid plan to which we might respond, and since a statement had been made that the government of the Peoples Republic of China would be investors in ZhongRong, we took the opportunity to raise the question of the maltreatment, forced labour, deaths and disappearances of dissidents in the PRC. China had come to our doorstep, so comment about China was appropriate.
Our three significant contributions to the effort to protect a public park.
1) We focussed on demolishing the fairy tale that Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace was about to rise phoenix-like from the ashes, in the form of an exact replica – and that this was going to happen thanks to a fantastically wealthy philanthropist who would not need immediate returns on his investment. Using figures published in Forbes, Mr Ni would have to have sold off nearly two thirds of his total assets to complete the scheme (assuming no major overruns in costs, as are common in big projects). Clearly he would have needed the support of investors and here the personal philanthropy story fell down. It also became explicit that Bromley was seeking a new and distinctive “world class building” for the site, not a re-birth of our lost heritage.
2) We launched a formal Friends of the Crystal Palace Nature Garden (as a successor to the Ridge Wildlife Group). This will function initially as a sub-committee of the Friends of Belair Park and is seeking to open a constructive dialogue with Bromley.
3) We took our proposals for the Nature Garden (already recognised in the pre-existing masterplan) to the large public meetings staged by the Information Group in the Salvation Army Hall in Westow Street, where they were well received.
Friends of Crystal Palace Nature Garden Outline: – FCPNG Feb. 2015 2nd Edition
As you are aware Bee Urban will be moving before the 2nd of March 2015. We are in need of volunteers to help with this epic task and many of you have already kindly offered.
We asking for volunteers from tomorrow Thursday 19th to 1st March. We will bee at the Bee Barn (Kennington Park, Lambeth, SE11 4AU) 10-5pm every day, please come and join us… Tasks will range from transplanting, boxing up and de-constructing the Bee Barn other structures. Many different tasks for all abilities to participate, all welcome even to just say hello. Copyright © 2015 Bee Urban, All rights reserved. Our mailing address is: email@example.com http://www.beeurban.org.uk
FOBP reproduce this rather lovely sounding invitation from Daniel Greenwood of the London Wildlife Trust:
Please find attached a poster for our upcoming Winter Tree ID walk at Sydenham Hill Wood on Sunday 25th January from 13:00-15:00. Please meet inside the Crescent Wood Road entrance, wear sturdy footwear and clothing suitable for the conditions.
This walk is designed to help you to learn how to identify trees when not in leaf. As remnant ancient woodland, Sydenham Hill Wood has a range of native tree species but also, after the development of Victorian villas and resulting gardens, there are a number of non-native and exotic trees which can also be found. This walk is a good way to get into the natural and cultural history of the Great North Wood, its trees, and its continuing relevance to our way of life today.
Whilst gift-giving is normal practice in the business world, it is generally accepted that public figures should practise extreme caution in receiving gifts. As Private Eye deadpans in its opening sentence from the article ‘China and Qatar gives thanks to Boris & Co’ (12th Dec 2014):
“BORIS JOHNSON’s plan to hand Crystal Palace Park to Chinese corporation ZhongRong so it can build a hotel in the historic London green space has already had a big impact on the London mayor’s hospitality register.” read the rest of the article here
Inside Croydon – who have been tenacious and belligerent even on the ZhongRong proposal – comment on Private Eye’s investigative journalism findings in their article (10.12.2014): Boris aides make a meal of London Mayor’s Chinese giveaway
Why is Crystal Palace Park discussed as though it is a piece of disused real estate by politicians on the Sunday Politics Show
posted by Nadia Mahmud-Salvisberg
Fantastic that the Crystal Palace Park proposal is finally making National News, but we are confounded and angry that the park is referred to as though it is a derelict and disused piece of land. It is a beautiful park where children play and wildlife lives.
As well as making the BBC news (23/11/14), The Crystal Palace development was discussed on the Sunday politics show(starts at 40 minutes). http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04p9cc4/sunday-politics-london-23112014
C4 news report on Boris Johnson’s Albert Docks property deal:
In the seemingly never-ending surfacing of new proposals for the Crystal Palace Park (The Multiplex (1997), the Masterplan (??part1), the Masterplan (2008), the ZhongRong rebuild (2013)), many of you will be aware of the latest proposal (2014) for the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. The Crystal Palace National Sports Centre is in Crystal Palace Park and a part of it; and the proposal being put forward involves building a primary school (under much debate) and some reworking of the sports facilities – though the devil is in the detail (see document). This is a discussion that is being had whilst the ZhongRong proposal is still ongoing – the new scheme being touted as something that can potentially fit alongside the ZhongRong scheme.
This is Councillor Stephen Carr – the leader of Bromley Council’s view on the scheme: