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Ray of hope for Crystal Palace multiplex objectors

The controversial plan to build a leisure complex on London's Crystal Palace Park was cast into further doubt this week with the news that the developer has agreed to meet a consortium with a radically different approach to the sensitive site.

London & Regional Properties director Geoff Springer is set to meet the Crystal Palace Consortium and its architect, Tarsem Flora of Agenda 21 Architects, on 5 March to discuss alternative plans to the Ian Ritchie/RHWL scheme, which has become bogged down amid legal objections.

The consortium wants Springer to abandon his plan for a £75 million, 20-screen multiplex which was originally drawn up by Ian Ritchie but is now being overseen by RHWL. Instead of this scheme, Flora has drawn up a £100 million plan for four cinemas and a revamp of the existing Crystal Palace sports complex. The cinemas would be underground and on a different area of the park, which would mean that the site of the current proposal would stay as Metropolitan Open Land.

The agenda for the meeting has not been fixed but Flora said that the fact that Springer has agreed to consider their case at all is a positive step.

'We don't know why he would ask us in if he wasn't looking at other options, ' he said. Springer was unavailable to comment on the meeting.

The existing scheme has planning permission from the Borough of Bromley, but the European Commission has placed a question mark over its validity by claiming that permission has been granted without the environmental impact assessment which is required by European Union law.

In addition a local resident has won the right to a full judicial review of the planning permission in the Court of Appeal, possibly in July.

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