CRYSTAL PALACE PARK REGENERATION by Pat Trembath, Sydenham Society

CRYSTAL PALACE PARK REGENERATION by Pat Trembath, Sydenham Society

Bromley council are at long last starting the process of regenerating Crystal Palace park.

The Masterplan for the park which was finally agreed in 2013, after years of discussion and dispute, is beginning to be implemented.

A Shadow Board of Trustees has been working with Bromley officers for the past year or so, ready to take over a lease on the park from Bromley.

At the same time, Bromley is looking to dispose of the land on Westwood Hill, currently occupied by the Caravan Club, for the purpose of housing (agreed in the Masterplan) in order to raise match-funding for a funding bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Before the council can make a final decision to grant a lease of the park to the proposed trust or to sell or lease any part of the Westwood Hill site which currently forms part of the park, or to sell or lease the proposed museum site, it will be necessary for Bromley to advertise for two consecutive weeks in a local newspaper as required under Section 123 (2A) of the Local Government Act 1972, and to report back on any objections received.

They must then give full consideration to any objections which may be made. The Caravan Club lease contains a notice allowing the council to terminate the lease early once every 30 years if it proposes to redevelop the site.

The next termination date is 31 December 2018. Under the terms of the lease the council has to give not less than 24 months’ notice i.e. notice had to be served before 31 December 2016. Notice was served on 21 November 2016.

Because the lease is protected by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, the council has also to comply with the statutory notice requirements in that act.

Normally this would be done by a single notice but under the act the maximum notice period is 12 months. Consequently, a further notice to terminate the lease will have to be served in January 2018.

The tenant has a right to object to the notice and to refer the matter to the local county court where the landlord (Bromley) has to be able to show a fixed and settled intention to do what it says it intends to do (i.e. redevelop) and has a reasonable prospect of being able to do so. It is highly likely that The Caravan Club will oppose the notice.

Evidence will be required of Bromley’s decision to proceed with a sale for redevelopment purposes, and that there is good evidence of the intention to redevelop by having agreed terms or exchanged contracts with a developer who is seeking or has obtained planning permission.

As there is a good 18 months before any court hearing is likely to take place this should be feasible.

Failing to convince the court of a fixed and settled intention and a reasonable prospect of redeveloping the site could result in the court ordering the grant of a new lease to the Caravan Club.

The court cannot make an order for a lease with a term of more than 14 years, but the risk of not getting everything lined up in the case of a contested hearing is that any redevelopment could be delayed by a period of up to 14 years.

Other leases which are likely to be terminated to enable redevelopment to proceed include the One O’Clock Club. This lease is outside the protection of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 and contains an early termination clause allowing the council to terminate on 12 month’s notice.

The St John’s Ambulance site is also outside the protection of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 and contains a provision allowing the council to terminate on not less than 6 months’ notice any time after 9 June 2007. Pat Trembath (This article first appeared in Sydenham Society’s newsletter and is reproduced with the author’s permission – Ed.)

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