Letter: People's palace

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The Independent Culture
Sir: John Walsh's article "A whiff of the secret state in a suburb" (15 March) is an excellent advert for the Crystal Palace Campaign's "war" against the rebuilding on the site of the old Crystal Palace, but there is another side to this story, involving the Single Regeneration Budget grant for the small parts of Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark converging at the top of the hill.

The SRB grant will improve the area, neglected by all the councils, and offer people employment training, support for local community groups and practical help for small businesses. Development of the fenced-off, dangerous mass of rubble alongside Crystal Palace Parade will remove the seedy atmosphere and give a glass entertainment centre for South London. The building will not "dominate the skyline"; it will be invisible to most of the residents. This is not a green site; it is a mass of building foundations on a dump shamefully neglected for 60 years.

The arrogance of the 1,500 members of the Crystal Palace Campaign is breathtaking - "so much professional muscle ... and we're still not winning". There are 250,000 people in the Single Regeneration Budget area.

In its heyday the Crystal Palace was known all over the English-speaking world for its brass-band festivals, its concerts, its cage-bird shows, its educational exhibitions, its football - ordinary Victorian and Edwardian events in the pleasure park. I hope it can be used again as a leisure complex and pleasure park.

I have a vested interest because my great-grandfather was a trustee of the Crystal Palace and my family always said it was burnt down in 1936 to celebrate my arrival.


Beckenham, Kent