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the last protester is moved off site (25.03.99)

The last two eco-warriors at Crystal Palace Park have left their underground home after 19 days.

Animal and Ken's decision to come out from their bunker below the park ends a year-long saga which began when the eco-warriors moved onto the site in April 1998.

The human moles emerged just before 1pm on monday - nearly three weeks after the eviction process began

Animal and Ken were arrested and after the site has been inspected for health and safety reasons the park will be handed back to Bromley Council. No-one was hurt during the protest/eviction although there were several arrests for bail violations. It was not possible to put a cost to the operation.

The chief superintendent is quoted as saying that the whole area can now return to normalcy.......although quite what normalcy there is going to be like whilst they are building a multiplex cinema on the site I don't know....


the story of the Crystal Palace Protest Camp.

Palace Party! 13th March 1999: a report from DJ Susan

It went really well - there were all sorts of people demonstrating all afternoon in the centre of Crystal Palace and at the edge of the park. People were all dressed up - a guy in a silver suit and top hat, a bear with a big bottom, sexy squatter sirens, kids with their faces painted, grannies with handbags and placards. There was lots of noise and commotion and car horns being tooted.

We finished off with a big party in the park. There were circus acts, performances, fire juggling and general fooling around... We put the Undertow rig up outside for the first time and blasted happy pumping dance music all around Crystal Palace Park. The idea was to play so loud that the remaining squatters in the tunnel could hear us. The police were cool too - "it's none of our business if you play in the park" they said, "its up to the owners to complain" - and they let us get on with enjoying ourselves for the evening. Everyone had a great time - like a mini Glastonbury someone said (maybe partly 'cos the grass was a bit muddy after too much bouncing on it :)

There are still people underground AFAIK and its still costing Bromley Council a lot of money.


Report from SchNEWS 203, Friday 5th March 1999

"There is a time for words and a time for action. Now is the time for action." - Harry, a local campaigner currently up a tower during the eviction

As SchNEWS went to press the eviction of the protest camp at Crystal Palace entered its third day. The site is surrounded by hundreds of security and police, main roads have been closed off , but protestors reckon the eviction could last for at least another ten days.

The Grade II listed park, on the highest point in London, is about to be carved up to make way for a #56 million, 20 screen multiplex cinema with 9 bars/restaurants, various retail outlets with concrete ramps leading cars up to the largest rooftop car-park in Britain! 12 acres of the park and 150 trees will disappear under the building which has been likened to an 'airport terminal.' This blot on the landscape will be visible for miles.

Despite the fact that there was no environmental impact assessment; the Wildlife and Countryside Act was broken and the EU Habitat Directive ignored John Prescott gave the venture the green light saying there was no need for a public enquiry. Since taking over the park from the G.L.C. in 1986 Bromley Council have deliberately run the park down hoping any development would be welcomed by locals. However, the Councils claim that the development will "capture the essence of Paxtons work" hasn't washed with the locals who complain that the consultation process left a lot to be desired. The trashing of Crystal Palace,however, is being repeated around the country. The London Wildlife Trust estimate that sixty wildlife sites in the capital have been threatened by development this year alone.

Not that architect Ian Ritchie cares. He told disgruntled residents "I'm glad people don't like it - it confirms my belief that it is a good design."

The complex aims to attract people from across South London and as Croydon councillor Adrian Dennis points out, "It is a car led development".

One of the boroughs bordering the site, Southwark, despite having the lowest car ownership rates in the country, suffers some of the worst air pollution rates in northern Europe, and will be hit further by the development with thousands of visitors expected.

In fact Bromley Council's own traffic advisor when asked by a local person how they could cope with the extra traffic replied 'It will be best to avoid the area'. Bit difficult when you live there.

Southwark is also the most densely populated district in northern Europe - here more than anywhere people need open spaces. Still, councillor John Lewis, a supporter of the development reckons "People don't want change and will find any excuse to hinder progress. There is a hard core group of people who want a museum and more trees in the park."

More trees in a park - good god, whatever next. As one protestor Storm Porrum told SchNEWS "Parks are the lungs of any city and we don't want our breathing space encroached upon by a development that will only add to pollution by increased car use."


A little history

The Park lies on what was once Penge Common, a patchwork of common land dominated by the Great North Wood. The area was still wooded and rural when the Great Exhibition housed in the 'Crystal Palace' building was moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham Hill in 1852. Over the years the Palace, built by Joseph Paxton became run-down until it burnt down in 1936 after a cigarette was dropped during an orchestra rehearsal. The resulting fire was seen across south east England. The grounds of the Palace became parkland and various Acts were passed by parliament to ensure that the land was held as recreation space for the people.

update: 18.12.98

Eviction papers have been received and a security compound has been built next door. The police have been milling around, shoving cameras in everyone's faces.

update: 5.12.98

Residents and eco-warriors pledged to stop the building of a proposed leisure complex in Crystal Palace, celebrated outside the High Court today after the judge ruled that there will now have to be a full enquiry into the development. Protesters camped out at the Big Willow Eco Village welcomed the decision, but realise that there's still a big fight ahead - the council can still the demolish the trees any time it likes..


(report from: 01.08.98)

Protestors are taking up the invitation from local residents to join the Big Willow Eco Village camp at Crystal Palace, South London. The Grade II listed park, on the highest point in London, is about to be carved up to make way for a £56m, 20-screen multiplex cinema with 9 bars and parking for 1,000 cars. If built, the complex will attract up to 9,000 visitors a week, the majority travelling by car, creating horrendous congestion and pollution.

John Prescott, as head of the Department of Environment, has OK'd the venture without a public enquiry. Last July 594 out of 600 people at a public meeting voted against Bromley Council's proposals. Five thousand residents have since signed a petition against the development. Friends of the Earth said Mr Prescott had "lost the plot!".

Planning permission was agreed on 21st April, 1998. The architect Ian Richie, told disgruntled residents: "I'm glad people don't like it - it confirms my belief that it is a good design".

The development sets a precedent for the new government buzz word "park-stripping", whereby areas of a parkland can be sold to developers to pay for the upkeep of the rest.

Such was the strength of opposition in the area that that £35,000 had been raised locally for a Judicial Review to take place to try and overturn the planning permission. Sadly, the High Court overturned their objections on the 27/07/98 and another eco-battle is imminent.


Urban75 paid the camp a visit on Monday (4th May 98) and chatted to the 30-odd people currently on site. Local press has been very favourable.

The site, started in April 98, already has communal spaces, a cafe and stage with tree walkways are currently being built in preparation for the inevitable evictions (rumoured to be some time away at the moment).

If you're in the area, drop by and pay them a visit. They also desperately need any of the following: Scaffolding tubes, clips and planks, cement, sand and gravel, timber (2" upwards), tarpaulin, firewood (untreated), food and drink (go on - get them some beers!), tools and (ahem) drugs (cough medicines an' all that....!) They also need £3,000 for climbing equipment, ropes, harnesses etc. Send cheques (payable to 'Big Willow Eco Village') to 18 Church Rd, Upper Norwood, SE19.
For collection, call Andy on 0181 659 3301.

Get there! Details of location: Camp is at the corner of Crystal Palace Park Road and Westwood Hill. Take any bus that goes along CP Parade. How to get there: train, Crystal Palace stn direct from Victoria, Gypsy Hill stn then walk up the hill, same line. Bus: there are many connections from all over London. Tube: Brixton, then no. 3 bus [20 mins] Balham, then Crystal Palace train, overground. They need your support, join them now, ring 0181 653 8977 for more info and updates. site mobile: 0961 832472. Contact the Crystal Palace Campaign 0181 693 8200

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