Boris Johnson’s plans to develop the Crystal Palace, once home to the Great Exhibition of 1851, seem to have halted after no planning application has been put forward by China-based group Zhongrong, who had first claims on the site.
The Mayor of London welcomed the £500m plans to recreate the palace as a “cultural visitor attraction” a year and a half ago. But on Sunday, the sixteen-month exclusivity period granted to the foreign investors lapsed without any sign of a planning application or a design for the site in southeast London.
One of the major problems with this development is believed to be concerns over the loss of green space and what level of control over public land would be granted to the developer.
Bromley council, which controls the land said: “There are still ongoing discussions with the Zhongrong Group although we are now open to other development proposals for the site.”
Bromley council leader Stephen Carr said: “These have been and remain complex proposals. The potential to completely restore and improve the park as well as regeneration for the surrounding area is something we cannot ignore. Equally, the council is not going to agree to something without being confident about the proposals, as we are custodians of this fantastic park.”
According to the original timetable, a planning application should have been submitted last year. However, despite several of Britain’s top architects being nominated a year ago to provide designs for the site, no architect has yet been named.
Councillor Carr added: “Whilst we are no longer bound by the exclusivity agreement, the confidential discussions have not concluded and these continue with ZhongRhong. Local people and other parties should know that when there is something to say, we will them informed…and I thank them for their continued patience.”
A spokesperson for Zhongrong’s Crystal Palace project told the Financial Times that they remain fully committed to investing in the project.
The Crystal Palace was originally erected in Hyde Park and was hailed as one of Britain’s greatest architectural achievements before it burned down in 1936.The Zhongrong Group proposed that the new £500m building would equal the scale of the original structre which was used to showcase Britain’s advancements in technology and industry.
Residents and local politicians are becoming increasingly impatient about the lack of detail in the proposals and are requesting a complete reconsideration of the entire project.
A local resident in Bromley, Karl Richter, who organized a well-supported petition calling for more information about the development, said he would be “very concerned” if further negotiations continued.
“The developer has not been able to deliver its commitments to prepare a business plan for the project nor made a planning application as promised”, he said.
Tom Chance, a prominent Green Party activist in the Bromley area has said: “Bromley and the GLA need to stop messing around with Fantasy projects and send the Zhongrong Group packing.”
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