A grand, Chinese-funded scheme to return London’s iconic Crystal Palace to its former glory – and then some – appeared to die today as the municipal authority said that an exclusive development deal would not be renewed.
The news follows the lapse of a 16-month exclusivity agreement at the beginning of February and a Bromley Council offer to extend the period for developer ZhongRong Group if certain conditions were met.
We were prepared to properly listen to what ZhongRong had to say but we were never going to simply say yes to absolutely anything as we need to get this right– Stephen Carr, Leader of Bromley Council
The 14-day period for a response has now lapsed and the council has said that there "was not a realistic prospect of reaching an agreement".
"There is a major opportunity here to do something that might really improve the park and provide much needed regeneration locally too," said the Leader of Bromley Council, Stephen Carr, in a statement.Â
"This was why we were prepared to properly listen to what ZhongRong had to say but we were never going to simply say yes to absolutely anything as we need to get this right.Â
"Now, we will meet with community stakeholders as we have done all the way along this process to review options going forwards. Importantly too, we are continuing to progress plans to improve Crystal Palace Park with an investment in excess of two million pounds."
China’s ZhongRong Group (ZRG) won the £500m redevelopment in October 2013. As well rebuilding the Victorian structure, which burned down in 1936, it was to have restored the surrounding public park. Plans developed by Arup (pictured) included a hotel and conference centre, a visitor centre, a concert bowl and other commercial facilities.
Bromley Council wrote to the ZhongRong Group following the lapse of the exclusivity period on 1 February.Â
The council, with the support of the Greater London Authority, then wrote to ZRG giving them 14 calendar days (to 20th February) to agree to a number of financial and business planning-related conditions.Â
"At the end of this 14 day period," Bromley Council said, "the council wrote to ZRG and concluded that there was not a realistic prospect of reaching an agreement."
Photograph: An artists impression of what the Crystal Palace development will look like from an aerial perspective (Arup)