Mayor says redevelopment backed by Chinese billionaire will see the Victorian Crystal Palace ‘rise again’

The mayor of London has unveiled £500m plans to develop Crystal Palace Park in south east London, including the reconstruction by a Chinese billionaire of the Victorian Crystal Palace that burned down in 1936.

The scheme comprises the reconstruction of the Victoria Crystal Palace as a new culture and employment space as well as the full restoration of the park, based on the original Victorian design, through new landscaping, planting and a central tree-lined boulevard.

It will incorporate the listed Italian style terraces, and other Victorian heritage within the park.

Chinese developer ZhongRong Group has appointed Arup to develop the plans.

Read Alastair Stewart’s blog on the Crystal Palace plans

Unveiling the plans this morning, Boris Johnson said the scheme represented a “21st Century vision” of the Palace. He added: “The Palace will rise again”

Ni Zhaoxing of developer ZhongRong Group and Johnson both emphasised the importance of consultation with local residents - a handful of whom protested outside the launch event.

Consultation plans were launched online today.

Zhaoxing said: “This development will be profitable for me, for local residents and the UK.”

Johnson rejected concerns about the influx of foreign investment into the capital.

Johnson, who travels to China later this month, said: “It’s an amazing time for London and there’s a great amount of interest from overseas.

“If it hadn’t been for an American tycoon, financed by a German bank, we wouldn’t have had a London underground.”

Zhaoxing - who first approached local authorities with his plans a year ago - said he had developed anaffection for London after his two children went to university there.

He said his development company had experience of developing a similar glass and steel structure “four times as large” as part of a £1bn development value in China.

His company will look to develop a major UK scheme “every two or three years”, he said.

The wider plans for the park are being drawn up by Arup.

Jerome Frost, director of planning, UK, Middle East & Africa at Arup, said regenerating the surrounding park was key to the plans and unlike previous iterations the scheme would not introduce new housing.

Frost said the scheme would capture “the essence” of the original Crystal Palace and would be the same scale, creating a “global cultural destination space for London”, like the Grand Palais in Paris.

He said the team has begun discussing with the GLA plans to regenerate the Park’s sporting facilities as part of the scheme, which include the former UK national athletics stadium and a listed swimming pool.

Frost, who previously worked on the London 2012 legacy for east London, said the Crystal Palace project could have a similar regenerative impact on south London.

“It’s up there in terms of excitement,” he added.

Frost confirmed the new structure would feature the latest fire-proofing technology.

He told Building’s sister title Building Design that a steering committee will begin searching for a British architect to work on the designs in due course.