Last night, at a rather long and at times emotional planning meeting, Bromley's Development Control Committee approved the LDA's masterplan for the park. Objections based on the setting of a precedent by building housing on park land, the lack of funding, the collapse of the housing market, and the distinctly underwhelming tree palace all failed to sway the Bromley Councillors. The only argument that seemed to gain traction was the issue of the college building on Ledrington road, which would severely impact on the residents there.
Where next? It seems highly likely that this application will be called in by the Government Office for London for review.
I know that the membership of the Friends has a range of views on the issue of housing and the topsite, and I try to be careful to avoid making statements on the membership's behalf because of this. But I genuinely believe that Bromley have just set a very dangerous precedent last night by allowing this proposal through. It felt like all of our arguments counted for nothing against the need to be seen to be doing something with the run down, abused park.
As an example, I quote from Councillor John Getgood's report of the meeting that he's posted on Virtual Norwood. You may guess from the tone that he was a keen proponent of the scheme.
"In the end I had to ask myself whether there was anything in the first phase of improvements that I would be ashamed of. On the contrary, the vast majority of people living in Penge are desperate to see their park upgraded."
I suspect the 7,000 signatories of the petition to the Mayor of London might disgaree with him... What he and the other Bromley councillors should be ashamed of is allowing Crystal Palace Park to get into this state in the first place.