Greenwich Park will now be closed for four weeks in summer 2012 to accomodate the Olympics, organisers confirmed tonight.
It had been planned to close the entire park for between six and eight weeks to allow equestrian events to take place. But organising body LOCOG now says the restrictions will now run from 6 July to 3 August 2012.
The children’s playground and most of the flower garden will remain open throughout, it added, except for the day of the cross-country event, due to be held on 31 July
LOCOG’s announcement follows a closed meeting it held with local amenity societies on Wednesday.
It has already said a far lengthier closure of part of the park beneath the Royal Observatory, to construct a stadium, would be needed from April to November 2012.
LOCOG added that Circus Field on Blackheath would be used as an operational compound, meaning construction vehicles could access the park from the A2, which it hoped would mean less disruption locally, while it was not planning to close any residential streets.
Ways of upgrading the childrens playground and other parts of the park were also being discussed as a legacy after the games, while LOCOG was also in talks with Royal Parks about measures to protect the park’s trees.
“No trees will have to be cut down,” the statement added.
“We believe that Greenwich Park will be a stunning venue in 2012 but we understand the concerns that local residents may have about usage of the park during the games,” said LOCOG chief executive Paul Deighton.
“We are grateful to the Greenwich societies for organising the meeting and giving us a chance to listen to their concerns and explain our plans in more detail. This is an ongoing process of dialogue; we want to work with local residents so we can address concerns and make the games a fantastic experience for everyone.”
LOCOG said a “formal consultation” would take place in October and November, ahead of its application to Greenwich Council for planning permission.
UPDATED Saturday 2pm: Pressure group NOGOE, which wants the equestrian events moved away from Greenwich Park, said the park was “the only green space in a congested urban location” and the “unacceptable” closure would still deprive locals of “a vital public amenity”.
“There are thousands of people living in council flats within a 5 minute walk of the Park for whom it is a green lung,” it added in a statement.
“Moving to an existing equestrian venue wouldn’t lead to such a level of social deprivation.”
So, what do you think? For my money, I think this is good news, and if the A2 is going to be used for Olympic traffic, that’s good for locals, although car commuters will no doubt complain (they do have nearly 3 years’ notice, though). But I still wish LOCOG would not mistake speaking to the likes of the Westcombe Society for “consultation”, enabling them to escape the scrutiny of the vast majority of local people.
Yes, they have been holding stalls in Greenwich Park (and LOCOG staff have been giving up their weekends to staff them), but nothing beats being able to ask the boss a question. Is it time Greenwich Council stepped in and hosted another public meeting? However, a specific website is being set up to host documents and information about the Olympics – a long overdue and very welcome measure.
Eltham North Conservative councillor Nigel Fletcher has shared his thoughts on his blog.
Great article, good news. Look forward to hearing the nogoe response.
I think Nigel is referring to a briefing for councillors which took place at the Town Hall on Thursday 24th.
I wasn’t there but I was at the Concert Hall meeting on Wednesday (Blackheath Society member) and fortunately LOCOG seem to have told the same story both nights.
Both pro and anti views were well represented on Wednesday, traffic was probably the worry most mentioned. LOCOG seemed confident most spectators would arrive by public transport but they don’t seem to have sorted out where any spectator-carrying coaches will wait up during the day.
Didn’t anyone ask about partial closures of the Park? Use your leetle grey cells, people. LOCOG could close all the Park bar the children’s playground – so no footie, no walking, no sitting in the flower garden – and claim not to have fully closed the Park.
Whilst the park is a popular destination for tourists and locals, those who live in the area surely know there’s lots of other interesting green spaces nearby: Point Hill, East Greenwich Pleasurance, Hilly Fields, Oxleas Wood are just few that spring to mind – not to mention the Green Chain Walk, which takes in Eltham, Crystal Palace, Beckenham and Chislehurst.
Four weeks to explore and investigate.
Those green spaces that Humber Fisher lists do not fulfil the requirements of your average visitor to Greenwich, viz lolling about in the park or playing a bit of footie, shops, markets, cafes, LOOS, pubs, and the chance of running into friends and acquaintances, seeing something or someone odd, all surrounded by important and historical buildings and famous vistas. Not just going to a green space. It is impossible to replicate the buzz, the spirit, of Greenwich Park.
Nogoe’s objection to the games and the wildly exaggerated claims of disruption to be caused by the equestrian events really oughtn’t to be taken seriously apart from the fact that they seem to have garnered themselves the ear of LOCOG. Credit to nogoe for the organisation and diligence of their campaign, it really is a shame that it barking so loudly up the wrong tree(s). I suspect the motivation comes from the apparently pathological objection a tiny few have to the Games as a whole. Effective closure of the park for 4 weeks will undoubtedly break the comfy routines of several people. The fact remains that even without horsey types gadding about the park for a month or so, Greenwich residents as with most around East and South-east London will be inconvenieced by the Games by the sheer numbers of people and traffic converging on Stratford and the other venues. The Games are happening and they’re happening in Stratford, there’s no changing it, we’ve known about it for years and there’s nigh on 3 years til it all kicks off. It’s gonna be great. Thems as don’t like sport and don’t wanna be involved, fine don’t be, you’ve got plenty of time before then to absent yourselves, rest assured it will happen, grousing about it and being obstructive is futile. If I lived on the outskirts of Greenwich Park (and I’d really like to be able to afford to) I’d be planning to rent my place out at top dollar to the inevitable willing tourist(s) while shipping myself out to to somewhere like Gravesend for a few weeks still able to commute in to Stratford & Greenwich for my chosen events.
We can only hope the Games proves to be the irresistable force I believe it is and that the nimby kill-joys are ultimately unsuccessful.
Nogoe and others, you don’t like it, you don’t want it, we get that but like death and taxes it’s coming. If I were you I’d have to treat it as an opportunity to exploit – there’s other parks, your dogs won’t be able to tell, there’s other playgrounds, your kids won’t complain and any inconvenience can be compensated many times over with just a little imagination added to your undoubted brains and organisational skills. London 2012’s gonna be great! (and no Greenwich trees will suffer)
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