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Conservation body fears wider impact of Crystal Palace destruction

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A conservation organisation charged with protecting ancient buildings has piled into the row surrounding the demolition of a 20th-century sports centre.

The Society to Protect Ancient Buildings (SPAB) hit out against the destruction of the 1963 Grade II*-listed National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace at a meeting of top heritage bodies yesterday.

The organisation fears the criteria being used to demolish the sports centre - a clause within planning legislation PPG15 - could be applied to listed buildings up and down the country.

SPAB secretary Philip Venning said: 'We are concerned that this particular clause - that will allow demolition in exceptional circumstances for the greater public good - could be used much more widely to justify demolition. We need much greater definition of when this could apply.'

The issue was raised yesterday at a meeting of the Joint Committee of the National Amenity Societies, which, as well as SPAB, counts among its members the Council for British Archaeology, the Civic Trust and the Ancient Monuments Society.

Meanwhile, Twentieth Century Society director Catherine Croft told the AJ that she was trying to rally opposition to a planning application to redevelop the centre, which she claimed was imminent.

by Rob Sharp

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