As was revealed in today’s press conference, Chinese multi-millionaire, Mr Ni Zhaoxing, is proposing to invest up to 500 million pounds in Crystal Palace Park. The plans include up to £400m on a new replica building on the top site, location of the original 1854 building, and £100m for park refurbishment. That should be enough to implement the proposals from the Master Plan, agreed 2 years ago, but without the housing.
Income from the partially commercial scheme would provide running costs for the park.
The plans are very sketchy at the moment but the proposed building could include a large open exhibition space (said to be larger than the Science Museum) and a 6-star hotel. It is claimed that the project could bring 1000 jobs to the area and provide a new, international cultural centre for London.
This could be the best opportunity we have to upgrade our park. However, there are still a number of issues that need to be answered. What else will the building contain? How will the local community benefit? How much traffic will it attract to the area? Will Mr Ni carry the plans through? Will there be enough money to maintain the park in the future.
Given the difficult history of the park and plans to improve it, we will needs to keep a close watch as these proposals develop. Consultation and community engagement starts now and a full planning application is expected in about a year’s time. You can find more of the plans on www.thelondoncrystalpalace.com