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Crystal Palace: Where did it all go Zhongrong?

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Dreams of a new Crystal Palace were shattered in 2014 as the project reached an impasse

In February this year, a glittering shortlist was announced in the contest to build what London mayor Boris Johnson called ‘a world-class cultural attraction’ on the derelict site of Joseph Paxton’s famed Crystal Palace, destroyed by fire in 1936. A winner was expected to be announced in summer, with work on site beginning in early 2015.

The line-up – Chipperfield, Zaha Hadid (with Anish Kapoor), Rogers, Grimshaw, Haworth Tompkins and Marks Barfield – plus the promise of a £500 million investment from Chinese developer ZhongRong Group held out the prospect of a phenomenal big-ticket scheme for the capital.

But, 10 months on, no winner has been selected and the project seems to have stalled. The official line from the secretive Bromley Council, both the landowner and planning authority, is that discussions are ‘ongoing’.

But the talk is that the proposed deal to hand over the site on a 125-year lease – effectively a sell-off – has reached an impasse. Bromley is unwilling to sign without assurances as to what will be built on this designated Metropolitan Open Land, while ZhongRong requires control of the land before it puts forward a planning application.

Watching from the undergrowth is an alliance of local residents fiercely opposed to any commercial exploitation of the park location. They have form: in 2001 London & Regional Properties pulled out of a move to build a glass-clad multiplex cinema on the site after a bitter five-year battle.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Industry Professional

    Good riddance I say. The park is not derelict as anyone ever setting foot in it will be bale to see. Locals are rightly fed up with people descending and declaring their much used local park in need of being concreted over. Would this have gone any further a really dangerous precedent would have been set not boding well for keeping green spaces in the city. It is too easy to feel all sentimental about a formerly bankrupt icon that burned to the ground for good reason. There is yet hope London will grow up and ditch its rampant icon-ism for a more interesting future should this project really disappear.

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