Today the Mayor of London, the Leader of Bromley Council and Chinese businessman Ni Zhaoxing launched probably the most exciting and ambitious plans that SE London has seen in decades, a new Crystal Palace.
The original Crystal Palace was designed by Sir Joseph Paxton and built in 1851 in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition. It housed a celebration of international business, arts and culture at a time when the country was massively confident and outward looking. In 1854 it moved to what was then known as Penge Common, giving a new name to the area (and a football team) and becoming a major attraction, but in 1936 it was destroyed by fire.
The proposals outlined today would see a building of the same scale and similar design that once again highlights business, arts and culture from around the world with conference and exhibition space but will also have leisure and retail facilities. The £500 million investment from Ni Zhaoxing’s firm the ZhongRong Group also promises a major refurbishment of the existing parkland.
Clearly this is a bold proposal and there is plenty that will need to happen before it can become a reality but if it does come off, and I sincerely hope it does, it will be a massive shot in the arm for the local area, a wonderful endorsement for London and boost to employment in a wide arc of SE London.