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Last Updated: Friday, 23 September 2005, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Homes proposal for historic park
By Alison Freeman
BBC News, London

The top terrace of Crystal Palace Park
Local people are being encouraged to have their say
Houses and shops could be built on part of an historic park to raise money for improvements to other areas of it, the London Development Agency said.

The LDA is set to take over Crystal Palace Park, in south London, from Bromley Council in the next few years and plans to revamp it.

It says, despite development, overall space would increase with land from a caravan site and car parks reclaimed.

A public consultation on a variety of options will begin on 20 October.

The top terrace of the park was once home to Sir Joseph Paxton's famous Crystal Palace until it burnt down in 1936.

I think whatever plans they come up with need to be very, very carefully considered.
Melvyn Harrison
Crystal Palace Foundation

A spokesman for the LDA said one option looked at putting a 'piazza-style' development at the entrance to the park nearest to the Crystal Palace Triangle of shops and restaurants.

He said he could not give details about the size of the development and added that the current access, next to a small garden, led to a bush-covered area which felt unsafe in the evening and did not encourage people to go into the park.

It was vital that people attended the consultation to have their views heard, the spokesman added.

Melvyn Harrison, of the Crystal Palace Foundation, said he would be keeping a close eye on any proposals.

He said: "I think whatever plans they come up with need to be very, very carefully considered.

Meeting aspirations

"It is a very sensitive issue and Crystal Palace residents have shown in the past that they are very passionate about the park and they are capable of doing things planners don't like."

But Valerie Shawcross, London Assembly member for Lambeth and Southwark, said people in the area wanted action to be taken.

She said: "This is a chance to make huge improvements, creating more parkland, more facilities and generally more to do.

"But while the LDA has committed millions of pounds to the park, there will need to be other sources of funding if these aspirations are going to be met.

"That's why it's so important that the full set of proposals - including any options for development and what they might help to pay for - are put to the public so they can judge for themselves."

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