Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Crystal Palace Park Development

Coming back from holiday is never much fun but coming back to find our local patch threatened with development was disappointing in the extreme. In truth, it wasn't a bombshell but we are all hugely concerned by the recent announcement (June 12th) that a £68m re-development of the park, thought to include much of the 'ridge' as I understand, has been given the go-ahead.

Daniel has written this response:

It is to our great dismay to find that the High Court has rejected the appeal of the Crystal Palace Community Association (CPCA) against the Crystal Palace Masterplan. The very notion that Grade II listed Metropolitan Open Land can be sold for private development is ominous not merely for wildlife habitats in London but for the wonderful open spaces cherished by Londoners all over the city. The sell-off and development of the ridge for ‘luxury apartments’ is an outrageous proposal, particularly in a period of national austerity. In terms of wildlife, turning the car park at the bottom of the ridge into wildflower meadows is a welcome addition to any development proposal and should be considered elsewhere to improve bee and butterfly populations in urban areas. However, this particular design comes at great cost as the ridge has been earmarked for commercial development, and therefore a wildflower meadow seems pithy in return for the loss of biodiversity up top. The biggest concern for wildlife here is the population of 10 different species of bats and, in particular, the light-phobic species which depend on the sheer darkness of the park to commute between sites in Sydenham, Dulwich and Norwood that we can confirm. Since the application for development was made the Brown long-eared bat has been recorded, bringing the number to 10 and showing that wildlife in the area is still not entirely understood. There is a lot to be learned about the area, even after the rise and fall of the Crystal Palace itself and the destruction of nightingale-dwelling Penge Place in the early 19th century. There is also the issue of damage to Song thrush populations, a Priority Species as part of the national Biodiversity Action Plan, a convention signed up to by the UK government in 1992. The removal of habitat from the ridge will greatly undermine the ability of this much-declined bird to survive and will impose undue pressure on it and the many other species we have recorded on the ridge. After the disappointment of the recent decision, the CPCA are considering a new appeal. Alongside the Open Spaces Society we would like to express our deep concern about these proposals and the High Court's ruling.

By Daniel Greenwood

As local residents who have enjoyed the park and observing its wildlife for a number of years we are in total opposition to these plans. We started this blog because we wanted to highlight some of the birds we found in the area and it was born from an idea that the Crystal Palace Ridge had potential for holding 'stopover' passage migrants. In a small way we have managed to show that. This year the scrub on the ridge has held Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Redstart and Wheatear (via a reliable source) - all local rarities, with common warblers and hirundines present too. We can be certain that the ridge was a breeding territory for Song Thrush, the importance of which Daniel mentions above, and a good number of other sensitive or declining species. It's awful to think of these disappearing from the park. 

We'll be watching these developments closely - Keep Crystal Palace Park green!


and Harpymarx is on the case too

Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis) in Crystal Palace Park.
Just one of the bird species that would be affected by development of the park,
amber-listed Green Woodpeckers regularly use the grassy ride on the ridge to feed.

Thanks to Dan for the response, other words and photo by Peter Beckenham

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