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From: "SchNEWS" (
Date: Mon, 8 Mar 1999 00:33:02 +0000
Subject: SchNEWS 203, Friday 5th March 1999

PARKING MAD - Crystal Palace eviction

"There is a time for words and a time for action. Now is the time for action."
- Harry, a local campaigner currently up a tower during the eviction

As SchNEWS went to press the eviction of the protest camp at Crystal Palace entered its third day. The site is surrounded by hundreds of security and police, main roads have been closed off , but protestors reckon the eviction could last for at least another ten days.

The Grade II listed park, on the highest point in London, is about to be carved up to make way for a £56 million, 20 screen multiplex cinema with 9 bars/restaurants, various retail outlets with concrete ramps leading cars up to the largest rooftop car-park in Britain! 12 acres of the park and 150 trees will disappear under the building which has been likened to an 'airport terminal.' This blot on the landscape will be visible for miles.

Despite the fact that there was no environmental impact assessment; the Wildlife and Countryside Act was broken and the EU Habitat Directive ignored John Prescott gave the venture the green light saying there was no need for a public enquiry. Since taking over the park from the G.L.C. in 1986 Bromley Council have deliberately run the park down hoping any development would be welcomed by locals. However, the Councils claim that the development will "capture the essence of Paxtons work" hasn't washed with the locals who complain that the consultation process left a lot to be desired. The trashing of Crystal Palace,however, is being repeated around the country. The London Wildlife Trust estimate that sixty wildlife sites in the capital have been threatened by development this year alone.

Not that architect Ian Ritchie cares. He told disgruntled residents "I'm glad people don't like it - it confirms my belief that it is a good design."

The complex aims to attract people from across South London and as Croydon councillor Adrian Dennis points out, "It is a car led development".

One of the boroughs bordering the site, Southwark, despite having the lowest car ownership rates in the country, suffers some of the worst air pollution rates in northern Europe, and will be hit further by the development with thousands of visitors expected.

In fact Bromley Council's own traffic advisor when asked by a local person how they could cope with the extra traffic replied 'It will be best to avoid the area'. Bit difficult when you live there.

Southwark is also the most densely populated district in northern Europe - here more than anywhere people need open spaces. Still, councillor John Lewis, a supporter of the development reckons "People don't want change and will find any excuse to hinder progress. There is a hard core group of people who want a museum and more trees in the park."

More trees in a park - good god, whatever next. As one protestor Storm Porrum told SchNEWS "Parks are the lungs of any city and we don't want our breathing space encroached upon by a development that will only add to pollution by increased car use."

A little history

The Park lies on what was once Penge Common, a patchwork of common land dominated by the Great North Wood. The area was still wooded and rural when the Great Exhibition housed in the 'Crystal Palace' building was moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham Hill in 1852. Over the years the Palace, built by Joseph Paxton became run-down until it burnt down in 1936 after a cigarette was dropped during an orchestra rehearsal. The resulting fire was seen across south east England. The grounds of the Palace became parkland and various Acts were passed by parliament to ensure that the land was held as recreation space for the people.

Directions to the camp

It's at the corner of Crystal Palace Park Road and Westwood Hill. By train: Crystal Palace or Gypsy Hill station direct from Victoria then walk up the hill. No.3 bus from Brixton or No. 63 to Kings Cross to Palace.

Contact the Crystal Palace Campaign 0181 693 8200

road protests 1999   |   road protests (current)   |   movement links