The Masterplan and Housing in the Park

| February 1, 2013 | 0 Comments

This article was written by Keith Adams who is a member of Crystal Palace Park Community Stakeholder Group.  Any views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of the Group.

In 2007 the (now defunct) LDA made a determined attempt to regenerate Crystal Palace Park.  Landscape architects Latz and Partners were commissioned to produce a Masterplan (MP) for the Park. Their proposals were very ambitious and included extensive landscaping, a treetop walk, a grid of trees outlining the original Crystal Palace, an adventure playground, water features, a new museum facing the Crystal Palace Parade with a raised viewing area and linked to a restored Paxton vaulted subway, a renewed maze and cricket pitch.  They also envisaged two innovative glass houses, one housing tropical plants, (reminiscent of those at Kew) at either end of the restored and repaired Italian Terraces.  The planning documents ran to many thousands of pages and contained many other proposals to revitalise the Park and restore its heritage features. The stated core principles were to provide a revived metropolitan park; a sports and events park; a sustainable park; an educational park.  Nigel Westaway associates were commissioned to consult with the local community on the MP.  Members of the public and community representatives gave very strong support to all but two of the MP proposals – these were plans for two residential developments at the edge of the Park.

The MP is a huge project with a 20 year timeframe. The stumbling block is its cost – initially estimated at £68 million and probably now more than £120 million. The backers proposed that the selling of some land for housing, together with matched funding, would make a significant contribution. Some people are implacably opposed to housing on parkland and are currently pursuing action in the High Court to prevent it.  The effect of this is to create uncertainty about the MP which can have a detrimental effect on grant applications.

What impact would housing have on the Park? In terms of area, the land for housing represents less than 0.5% of the Park. There are two proposed sites neither of which are currently accessible to Park users. The first, Sydenham Gate Residential, is on the border with Crystal Palace Park Road and is occupied by an ambulance station, maintenance building and the One O’Clock Club. The proposal is to demolish these and construct six “villas”, up to four storeys, accommodating 48 flats in total.  This land, unlike the site at Rockhills, is not Metropolitan Open Land (MOL).  Rockhills is located at the top of Westwood Hill were it meets the Parade.  Although this site is classed as MOL it is currently leased to the Caravan Club.  The Masterplan proposes to return more than 50% of this site to parkland and to use the remainder for three, five- storey residential blocks containing about 132 units, as well as community facilities and a café. Incidentally opponents of this scheme refer to “luxury flats” but I cannot find that description anywhere in the documents. Importantly the MP states that revenue generated from residential development would be used solely to fund the MP.

One surprising aspect of the MP is that, even with the residential development, there would be a significant increase in parkland. This partly arises from the removal of hard surfaces including carparks and roads (leading to a gain of 2.5 hectares or 25,000 square metres), the demolition of the seven 2-storey houses, the Lodge tower and the Paxton Suite (at the centre of the Park) the demolition of the Jubilee Stand and its replacement with a grass amphitheatre around the athletics track. There would be extensive removal of concrete structures around the Sports Centre.

cp park housing_1

The Borough of Bromley deserves a lot of credit, in my view, for being very proactive in trying to improve the Park along the lines of the MP.  Although the MP is a very long term project it is possible to implement it in stages as funding becomes available. A number of local community groups are working with Bromley to improve the Park so if you want to become involved in reshaping the Park (as I did) get in touch with them:

Crystal Palace Park Community Stakeholder Group

Crystal Palace Museum

Friends of Crystal Palace Subway

The Crystal Palace Foundation

Friends of Crystal Palace Park

Crystal Palace Campaign


To read more about the Masterplan:

The Crystal Palace Campaign has done fantastic work in collecting together all of the important Masterplan documents. The Exhibition Booklet is probably the most useful and is compelling reading. It is a large file and may take 2-3 minutes to download (but well worth the wait!).

Links to more detailed documents are on the Campaign’s website:

The Westaway consultation:

To read about the Borough of Bromley’s actions on the Park:

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