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Sky-high Crystal Palace ideas provoke more opposition

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An amusement-park operator is set to submit plans for a 100m-tall sky tower or 45m-tall ferris wheel on the controversial site of the former Crystal Palace site to exploit views of the capital in time for the millennium. However, the £500,000 scheme, believed to be the brainchild of Bembom Rides which operates Dreamland in Margate, was branded 'too permanent- looking' this week by Bromley chief planner Stuart MacMillan before an application has even been made. It may also have traffic implications and result in people 'feeling overlooked' since it is close to a residential area, he said. The plans have received the strong backing of the council's leisure and services committee.

John Payne, who represents the Crystal Palace Campaign fighting to preserve the adjacent Crystal Palace site against an 18-20-screen multiplex proposal by Ian Ritchie, said he was stunned that the council could now be considering another proposal which would place a considerable burden on the road infrastructure in the area. 'There's no limit to their arrogance,' he said.

The campaign last week won a High Court appeal to preserve the Grade II*-listed site of the former Crystal Palace, allowing it a judicial review of the planning consents for the multiplex proposals from Bromley and London and Regional Properties. It challenged the council on the grounds that it contravenes the 1990 Crystal Palace Act because Ritchie's scheme does not 'reflect the architectural style of the original' Paxton building. Ian Ritchie told the aj that his proposed glass and metal building is consistent with the aspirations of the act as it is 'all about innovation and components', and is adaptable for other future uses.

The sky tower idea - thought to be more likely than the ferris wheel, again for the highest point in South London - is described by council officials as 'a slim tower construction, up which would ascend a circular car'. The promoter would pay for it to stand for three and a half years from the summer of 1999 on a profit-share basis with the council, which would be granted access to it on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

At a meeting, Councillor Chris Gaster suggested that an explanation of plans for local people - which the campaign says was ignored for the multiplex idea - would be needed. But Councillor Joan Wykes, stressed the importance of not allowing bureaucracy to prevent the project from going ahead. 'A strong recommendation on planning permission should be given,' she said.

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