Dear [name of MP],
I am writing to you because I am concerned about the proposed Crystal Palace development. These are the reasons why:
- Crystal Palace Park is both English Heritage Grade II* listed parkland – which makes it of national cultural significance; and it is also Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) – which means it is protected public space. The land deal between Bromley Council and ZhongRong may potentially be in conflict with the rationale behind MOL designation, and I am concerned about the legality of this deal.
- This is open public land, which has value recreationally, and provides much needed respite for city dwellers. Public open space is precious in London. Furthermore it has ecological value.
- I am concerned about traffic. On the Crystal Palace website, ZhongRong state on the issue of traffic in their Frequently Asked Questions pdf.:
“Mr. Ni’s team will work with the London Borough of Bromley (LBB), the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Transport for London (TfL) to identify opportunities to improve public transport as part of a sustainable transport solution. Minimising the impact of the development on the local road network is an important part of the proposal. The nature of the new building lends itself to better management of on-site parking and improved local access arrangements. Proposals for this will be developed in partnership with key stakeholders.”
This is far too vague. It is wholly unsatisfactory. This is one of those issues that the London Borough of Bromley and the Mayor of London should have required to be resolved through a detailed study before they even looked at this scheme. Regardless of the capacity of car parking on the site, vehicles will have to travel to and from the venue through local streets. In fact, the larger the number of car parking spaces that the scheme offers, the greater that the volume of traffic heading to and fro will become. How will our streets cope with the increase, particularly in the rush hour? What will be the impact on local businesses? It is likely that there will be much opportunistic parking in our streets. That will be the implications for residents’ parking outside their own homes? What if one’s friends or relatives come to call? What about emergency vehicle access to the neighbourhood? What are the implications for late night traffic noise and headlights in residential streets? If the major roads around Crystal Palace are being choked with traffic, will residential streets be used as rat runs? What about the safety of our children if they play out in the street?
Detailed studies would have to have been carried out with adjacent boroughs. Is it correct to say that no such studies exist? In fact, there would have to have been ongoing meetings with officers and councilors of adjacent boroughs for an extended period of time. Local residents’ and amenity groups should have been involved in the process and there should have been public meetings staged by the boroughs to consult the community about changes to improve the traffic flow long before we got to this stage. There should have been a considerable volume of paperwork for local people to inspect, before forming an opinion of this scheme.
So far, we have been given answers that are evasive and platitudinous.
On the issue of trains they offer generalized assurances: “Mr. Ni’s team will work closely with TfL and others to ensure a sustainable transport solution.” Such co-operative attitudes are great of course, and we acknowledge the new Overground links from Shoreditch, and that bulk of visitors to Crystal Palace will be off-peak. We do however worry about the phrase: “Crystal Palace Station was designed to cope with significant visitor numbers associated with the original Palace.” 1854 (when Crystal Palace was built) had very different population demographics!! Furthermore, there used to be TWO stations at Crystal Palace; the one below the Parade was the high level station (near Farquhar Road) and has been built on so only one station remains which would be wholly inadequate to deal with vast numbers of travellers to the site.
- How long approximately will this take to build? We presume there is some sort of estimate. Local people want to know how many years of building disruption they will have to endure.
- The competition process was closed – it was not open to public tender.
- Last time I tried ZhongRong’s website I was denied access. Why? This does not help openness and transparency. With their exclusivity agreement and 125 year lease, how much accountability will there be to our local community.
- As Karl Richter says: “assurances by ZRG regarding the parts of the scheme that will remain for public amenity use cannot be guaranteed nor legally and robustly secured”.
- ZhongRong state on the Crystal Palace website that: “there will be lots of opportunities to get involved and these will be announced on the website in due course.” This is a bit patronizing – it is not for ZhongRong to tell us when we are allowed to get involved and how. So far the opportunities to get involved have included a drawing competition for children, which was won by Emily, aged 8 (but congratulations to her anyway!). We will not be dictated to by ZhongRong about when and how we can express our opinions.
Which Councillors to target:
Crystal Palace is technically in Bromley London Borough. However it sits on the border with many other boroughs: Croydon, Southwark, Lambeth and Lewisham – and clearly it will directly affect people in all of those boroughs (think traffic). The most obvious MP or councillor to write to (whether by e-mail or letter – you choose) is probably your local councillor. If you can’t decide who to write to, you could choose Helen Hayes Labour Councillor for Southwark, as she has already written to us to express her concerns :
“Cllr Andy Simmons and I share your concerns about Bromley Council’s intentions to sign a 125 year lease with The ZhongRong Group apparently without appropriate opportunities for scrutiny. We have written to Boris Johnson and the Leader of Bromley Council about these concerns.
As Chair of Dulwich Community Council, I have asked Arup on behalf of the ZhongRong Group to attend the next Community Council meeting on 19th March to present the project and provide an opportunity for local feedback – we have been pushing separately for consultation meetings to be held in Southwark, but Arup have been very slow on this.
We are also working hard to ensure a high level of awareness locally, so that we can all play a role in making our views known and challenging the process where this is necessary.”
So Helen Hayes, and Andy Simmons are likely to be a good choice, and they may well be inclined to do something with a pile of letters of concern (such as use them as evidence in a meeting, or when talking to the press).
Here are some suggestions of councillors you might write to – which are meant as a suggestive list to start you off, rather than as an exhaustive list to finish you off. Please use your imagination and initiative.
Lewisham West and Penge
Hon Jim Dowd MP, Labour
43 Sunderland Road
LONDON SE23 2PS
Croydon North, Labour MP
Hon Steve Reed MP,
908 London Road
Helen Hayes, Labour – Southwark
Helen Hayes, c/o Members’ Room
160 Tooley Street
Andy Simmons, Labour – Southwark
Andy Simmons, c/o Members’ Room
160 Tooley Street
Councillor Lewis Robinson – Conservative, Southwark
Lewis Robinson c/o Members’ Room
160 Tooley Street
West Norwood and Dulwich Constituency
Rt Hon Dame Tessa Jowell MP, Labour
write to: Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP
House of Commons
or e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
Valerie Shawcross – Labour
Member of the London Assembly for Lambeth and Southwark
Hon Chuka Umunna MP – Streatham, Labour
3a Mount Ephraim Road
London SW16 1NQ
e-mail – email@example.com
Darren Johnson is Green Party, and very involved with local traffic schemes, and interested in this CP issue. He is not a Councillor for a specific ward – but a London Assembly Member – so if you are not in any of the directly-affected boroughs but would still like to write to someone he might be a good person. You can of course write to him in any case. You are also welcome to write to more than one MP/ councillor/MEP.
London Assembly Member, Green Party
Darren Johnson AM,
Write to: GLA
The Queen’s Walk
London SE1 2AA