Radical proposals to fund the ongoing maintenance of Crystal Palace Park are being discussed following the announcement of a £500m plan to rebuild the Joseph Paxton-designed glasshouse, which was destroyed by fire in 1936.
The proposal to rebuild the palace, which has the support of Bromley Council, was revealed by London mayor Boris Johnson and Shanghai-based Zhong Rong International Group property company chairman Ni Zhaoxing earlier this week.
About one-fifth (£100m) of the promised investment has been earmarked for the restoration of the park to its original Victorian design. But full restoration of the park is thought likely to increase the annual maintenance cost to approximately £1m, with the final figure depending on elements of the design that are yet to be decided. The current maintenance spend is £250,000 per annum, which has precluded any restoration work on the badly deteriorated park.
To fund the enhanced maintenance costs, negotiations are underway with Zhong Rong Group to support the creation of a "legacy trust" funded from revenues raised by the new palace, which will include a hotel, conference facilities and other commercial activity.
Revenues earmarked for the trust, according to the terms up for negotiation, would be ring fenced and would be expected to fund 100 per cent of the ongoing maintenance costs.
The restoration plan for the park builds on an existing masterplan that recently gained permission with some steps already in place to begin the transformation process.
However, as the mayor and Bromley Council officials acknowledged at the launch, the cost of full regeneration for the park has until now remained an obstacle.
Johnson is to chair an advisory board to steer the project forward that will include Eden Project founder Tim Smit, HRH the Prince of Wales adviser Hank Dittmar and the London Design Festival's John Sorrell.
The £100m cost of restoring the park has been estimated using the original figure of £68m on which the current masterplan was based, adjusted to take account of today's prices.
Controversial housebuilding proposals in the existing masterplan have been omitted from the new plan, which will see the rebuilt palace become a "cultural destination".