Bromley Council has confirmed it has ripped up its deal with Chinese developer ZhongRong Group for the proposed redevelopment of Crystal Palace
The news comes after a 16-month-long ‘exclusivity agreement’ with the developer expired earlier this month.
Bromley Council had offered ZhongRong an extra 14 days to meet a number of conditions about its commitment to the project which would have seen Joseph Paxton’s landmark building ‘re-imagined’ by a leading architect.
However ZhongRong failed to meet the criteria before the deadline.
Last February the Chinese developer named a stellar shortlist of half a dozen of the UK’s biggest hitters, including David Chipperfield, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and a collaboration between Zaha Hadid Architects and Anish Kapoor, for the £500 million project to resurrect the south London icon (AJ 25.02.14).
The contest had been backed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson and boasted an impressive judging panel which included RIBA president Stephen Hodder and Peter Murray, the chair of New London Architecture.
A winner had been expected in the summer with a planning application for the new cultural destination due before the end of 2014. However plans for the redevelopment of the Paxton-designed palace remain uncertain and the council has said it ‘will meet with community stakeholders to review the options going forward’.
Leader of Bromley Council, Stephen Carr said: ‘There is a major opportunity here to do something that might really improve the park and provide much needed regeneration locally too.
‘This was why we were prepared to properly listen to what ZhongRong had to say but we were never going to simply say yes to absolutely anything as we need to get this right.
‘Now, we will meet with community stakeholders as we have done all the way along this process to review options going forwards. Importantly too, we are continuing to progress plans to improve Crystal Palace Park with an investment in excess of £2 million.’
ZhongRong’s bid to recreate Crystal Palace, which was destroyed by fire in 1936, as a new attraction reflecting the original ‘spirit, scale and magnificence’ of Paxton’s original structure made national headlines.
Billed as a new ‘culture-led exhibition and employment space’, the scheme was set to create up to 2,000 jobs and would incorporate the listed Italianate garden terraces. The scheme was earmarked to sit within Latz + Partners’ existing masterplan for the wider revamp of the surrounding 80ha park.
Green Party candidate for Lewisham West and Penge, Tom Chance has hit out at the process and called on Mayor of London Boris Johnson to issue an apology over the failed plans.
Boris Johnson owes Crystal Palace an apology
‘The Mayor owes Crystal Palace an apology for keeping community groups out of the park for sixteen months, and losing £4.5 million in lottery funding, while entertaining this ridiculous proposal’, said Chance.
He added: ‘Park users will be delighted to hear that this deal has finally fallen through. The GLA and council now need to get back to working with the local community to implement the masterplan, which recognises that the park is a green lung for the local community, an important sports venue for London and the south east, and an internationally important heritage site, not a building site.’
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