A historic park and sports centre will get a regeneration and a facelift – but it will take building 200 homes and flogging them off to fund it.
Crystal Palace Park has endured fire, Nazi bombing raids, and decades worth of lapsed plans and failed ideas. And you could say it was the first Jurassic Park.
Now a latest bid to secure its future has been published by Bromley council, which has managed the park since 1986.
The project includes a major facelift for the park’s National Sports Centre, with re-routed paths and a revamp to make it more welcoming, attractive and easier to navigate.
The latest move comes as the last £67m masterplan, accepted by Bromley in 2010, is set to expire in December.
The grand schemes contained in that plan were never realised due to a lack of funding. The new one will be funded by flogging off new housing at the north-west corner of the park and on nursery and a St John Ambulance base off the Crystal Palace Park Road.
The 2010 plans had included permission for the two developments of 180 homes, but the most recent scheme has 30 more flats in six blocks up to four storeys high.
The latest plan would see 70 permanent homes built at the site of a pre-school nursery, St John’s Ambulance, and the park’s maintenance depot.
The remaining 140 would be built at Rockhills, on the current site of the Crystal Palace Caravan Club.
Those homes would be in two blocks up to five-storeys high, with 84 car parking spaces.
The Crystal Palace Foundation will make detailed comments in due course.
Chairman Melvin Harrison said: “Our very initial thoughts are there are good bits in it and some bad bits.”
Scores of schemes for the park – once the home of the 1851 Great Exhibition’s Crystal Palace designed by Joseph Paxton – have fallen away over the decades.
“If Joseph Paxton came back today, he probably wouldn’t see that much of a difference,” Mr Harrison quipped.
He predicted the housing would become “a bit of a sore point” with respondents – as well as the loss of the park’s caravan site, whose lease runs until October 19.
“It’s a very popular caravan site used by thousands of people a year, literally from all four corners of the world,” he said.
None of the new housing would be affordable – it would be sold off at market price to fund the regeneration.
“The proposed housing is being developed as enabling development which will make the restoration of, and improvements to CPP, possible,” the council statement says, adding the park’s “scale, complex landscape and significant number of damaged heritage features remain a challenge.”
The new homes wouldn’t be the only new development at the site, with a new museum proposed at the Crystal Palace Subway – the most treasured remnant of the glass building which burned down in 1936.
A new community centre would also be built at the Rockhills housing development, while new structures at the Capel Manor College Anerley Hill Site and the Capel Manor College Farm Site have been proposed.
The overhaul would see a raft of demolition take place as well, with the outline plans including knocking down the nursery near Sydenham Gate; the St John Ambulance building on Crystal Palace Park Road; buildings at the Caravan Club; and the Crystal Palace Park Information Centre, which would be rebuilt elsewhere.
The plans are the latest attempt to secure the park’s future.
More than £2.5m in park improvements funded by Bromley Council, Historic England, and the Mayor of London were completed in May last year, with work including the building of a new skatepark, the conservation of some Grade-I listed dinosaurs, and the building of a new cafe.
In February, Bromley council voted in favour of directing £3.141m of funding from the London Mayor’s office to revitalise the Crystal Palace Subway.
Last week, Historic England announced it added the dinosaur statues, which date back to the mid-1850s, to its “at risk” register.
Full plans for the site can be seen by visiting Bromley council’s planning portal with the application reference of 20/00325/OUT.
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