The tragic loss of the much-loved original Crystal Palace in a fire in 1936 has drawn attention away from the fact that it was, by that time, an unsustainable economic failure.
It is disturbing that with Bromley just a few weeks away from signing over a huge chunk of the Park on a long-term lease to the ZhongRong Group, which seeks to re-build the Crystal Palace, that none of the following are in the public domain:
i) a detailed breakdown of contents and activities that the building will be designed to house (or a process of consultation that could credibly lead to community-agreed content within the available time-scale);
ii) a business plan developed with a financial consultant of international standing demonstrating that this expensive project will be economically viable and that it will probably re-cap its costs;
iii) an analysis demonstrating the capability of the proposed investors to support this project, given possible changes in China’s economic situation over coming years.
iii) an in-depth study conducted in partnership with the other boroughs meeting at Crystal Palace, demonstrating that potential problems with the volume of traffic, noise, numbers of visitors etc. will not impact in a negative fashion on the quality of life of local residents;
iv) credible guarantees that the emotive promotion of the building to local residents as the Crystal Palace rising from the ashes, is not, in reality, intended to provide justification for and to minimise opposition to an essentially commercial enterprise (such as a shopping centre to compete with Croydon’s £ 1 billion re-furbished Whitgift centre) being constructed on Metropolitan Open Land.
We recognise that the concept of re-building the Crystal Palace, whilst rejected by many local people, is also attractive to many. Supporters of the scheme argue that because of its special history, the Metropolitan Open Land status of the Crystal Palace Hill Top should not obstruct the project. Assuming, for the purposes of argument that a re-build proceeded and that it truly re-captured the spirit of the Crystal Palace, we urge that this 21st C project be pursued with ecological awareness and that (at the very least) the area of the former caravan park (adjacent to the TV mast compound) should remain to be managed as woodland, hedgerow and clearing habitat and that this connects with enhanced woodland environment lower in the Park.
We advocate pursuing positive relations with China and friendship with Chinese nationals living in London. At the same time, we must not mute criticism of actions taken by the Chinese authorities against dissidents such as Xu Zhiyong, who have demanded transparency with regard to overseas assets. We shall support them by publicising their cause and by insisting that there is complete transparency about the sources of funding for and about the recipients of profits derived from the Crystal Palace project, should it proceed.
You can assist our campaign by copying this letter and distributing it to as many other interested parties as possible.
Martin Heath (Chair, Friends of Belair Park).