London

High Court upholds £68m Crystal Palace Park redevelopment plans

Crystal Palace Park
Image caption LDA hopes to regenerate the area around the Crystal Palace Park

A £68m plan to regenerate Crystal Palace Park in south London has been permitted by the High Court.

Crystal Palace Community Association (CPCA) feared allowing the homes would threaten other open spaces and harm "bat commuting routes" in the park.

However, Mr Justice Keith said all grounds of their challenge, including that over the homes, had failed.

The London Development Agency's 20-year plan for the park, including building homes, won government backing in 2010.

The agency's plans to regenerate the area have been supported by Bromley council, the Mayor of London, English Heritage, Natural England and the Garden History Society.

'Very special circumstances'

LDA's lawyers argued the proposal was the best opportunity to protect the Grade II-listed park and the listed buildings in it which were on the Heritage at Risk Register.

However, CPCA's lawyers said there were concerns about the proposed residential developments, one of which was close to Rockhills Gate which was on Metropolitan Open Land, and allowing the homes could set a legal precedent and threaten all public parks and open spaces.

The group wanted the court to quash the planning permission, claiming the decision was legally flawed and that the new homes would harm bat habitats.

But, Mr Justice Keith said a planning inspector concluded in this instance there were "very special circumstances which were sufficient to outweigh the very strong presumption against development on such land".

Great Exhibition

A spokesperson for London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "The mayor is pleased that vital regeneration in Crystal Palace Park has moved a step closer.

"He is committed to finding a workable solution for the area, and has signalled this commitment by setting aside £2m in this year's budget to support regeneration, driving jobs and boosting economic growth in the capital."

The park, designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, was originally created to house the Crystal Palace, the highlight of the 1851 Great Exhibition, on the Penge Place Estate in Sydenham Hill.

But the Victorian structure was destroyed in a fire in 1936. The park now houses the National Sports Centre and the Italian Terraces.

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