Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Park Update from the Main Group

Let's start at the end of the meeting for a change. The meeting ended with an impassioned plea from Martin Heath of the Ridge Wildlife group to think about how we could reach a compromise. His point (and I have to say I agree with him) is that if we focus on what we don't like, we'll have a campaign against this, a campaign against that, and what we'll end up with is nothing. There was a lot of sympathy for this at the meeting, but whether or not it will actually translate into a workable compromise, who knows...

On this note, the facilitators be sending round a questionnaire, trying to establish what it is about the masterplan that people do and don't like (I suspect housing will top the list...). I'd be interested to know what the Friends membership makes of the plan. The strawpoll in the meeting suggested that other than the housing issue, most people seemed happy with the scale of the plan.

Capel Manor

We've already posted a short piece on the farm (see here), including likely opening times and dates. Much of the debate at the meeting focused on the number of students on site. One important clarification from the Capel team was that when they talk about student accommodation, they mean classrooms. They're not planning any long-term residential accommodation (although it seems likely that they will have a flat in the new Ledrington Road Lodge replacement building for over-night stays, e.g. for the person on call for the farm).

Planning Application

Again, we've covered the planning application previously, but there was some useful advice about which documents to focus on. Suggestions were:

  • Planning statement section 4 - describes the proposals
  • Planning statement section 6 - justification for the scheme
  • Design and Access statement Section 4 volume 1 gives the key diagrams and drawings of potential buildings etc (they stressed these were only illustrative though)
There was a considerable amount of debate on the lack of communication from the various boroughs and precisely when the deadline was for responses. Bromley stated that responses could be sent in right up until the date of the meeting (likely to be October), but that it would be useful to get them in sooner to help the officers prepare their briefing for the council members. End of April/mid May was suggested as a good deadline.


The remainder of the meeting largely focused on potential governance options for the park. There are a number of options on the table, all with various pros and cons:

  • Single borough
  • Multiple boroughs
  • A regional body
  • A regional Parks authority
  • Royal Parks
  • A Partnership (e.g. public, private, local bodies)
  • A charitable trust
These are very initial discussions, and its unlikely that anything will be decided in the near future (mainly because they all depend on the LDA getting planning permission, if not, we can assume that the lease will remain with Bromley...)

If anyone is interested, the more detailed paper setting out the pros and cons of the various governance options is downloadable here. (word file, 172kb)

Crystal Palace Park in the news...

A belated press update... 25th Jan 2008...

According to a piece in the Streatham Guardian, Ken Livingstone (Mayor of London) would support the scheme to build a a scaled down model of the Crystal Palace on the topsite of the park, as long as it was not a drain on the public purse.

Have you seen Crystal Palace Park in the press? Let us know!

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Exploring the Farm

Capel Manor were kind enough to let me have a wander round the farm in Crystal Palace Park today. I've always been a fan of the idea of having a farm in the park, ever since I saw Capel's open day. They only had a snake and a couple of small mammals with them, but the reaction of the kids that were flocking to see them convinced me that we needed the farm back!

That's not to say that there's no controversy, and I know people are concerned about the number of students (although I think this issue was largely dealt with at the recent main group, more on that shortly...). But I strongly believe that this is a very positive development for the park.

So when's it opening? Wander down at Easter and have a look. They're going for a gradual opening so that the animals have time to get used to humans being around... In terms of opening times:

  • Winter: 10:30 - 12:00, 2:00-4:00
  • Summer: 10:30 - 12:00, 2:00-4:30
  • Monday - Friday (not Wednesdays)

We're not sure about weekend opening details yet.

(click the image for a larger version)