Greenwich Council approves London 2012 Greenwich park planning application

March 24, 2010 by  

Greenwich Council's planning board has backed proposals to hold Olympic equestrian events in Greenwich Park in summer 2012, together with test events in 2011.

The 12-member board voted 10-2 to back the proposal after a four-and-three-quarter-hour long meeting at Woolwich Town Hall.

Conservative councillors Geoffrey Brighty (Blackheath Westcombe) and Dermot Poston (Eltham North) objected to the scheme, however their party colleague Peter King (Eltham South) voted for organising body LOCOG's application.

The other members backed approval of the scheme with a string of conditions attached, which include the setting up of an advisory body - including bodies such as English Heritage and Natural England - to oversee works in the park and Blackheath's Circus Field.

Councillors also told LOCOG to seek approval from Greenwich Council for individual elements of planned construction work, together with crowd management proposals.

The board's formal backing now paves the way for a temporary stadium to be built in front of the Queen's House during 2012, the creation of a cross-country course through the park, and the use of the Circus Field as an operational compound.

LOCOG chairman Lord Coe told councillors that Greenwich Park had "a special place in the hearts of many", describing it as "the beating heart of a diverse community - just ask the thousands of marathon starters who gather there each year".

"Tonight, we ask you to trust us," he said, claiming the Olympics would enable "a young urban audience to witness Olympic and Paralympic equestrianism first hand".

But opposition body NOGOE claimed LOCOG's proposals were not detailed enough, and risked damaging the park's ecology and archaeology. There was also criticism that local roads, particularly the Blackwall Tunnel - would not cope with the demands of an Olympic Games.

NOGOE supporter Sue McNeil told the meeting: "We're not anti-Olympics - we're pleased Greenwich is a host borough, but using suitable arenas like the Dome.

"Greenwich Park should be the official 'chill-out zone' during the Olympics - otherwise we will lose tourists when construction starts.

"We could rent out our houses for a small fortune when the Games are on - but we value Greenwich more than that."

In opposing the application, Cllr Poston said the park would be an "amazing theatre" for those watching on television.

"But they are not the ones who use the park," he said. "I have to consider that this is a conservation area - and I'm afraid I'm not convinced that this will enhance or preserve a conservation area."

Cllr Brighty spoke of the numbers who use the park each weekend, adding "four weeks [of closure] at the height of summer is too much".

But members who backed the proposal sought to pacify opponents. Labour councillor Clive Mardner (Abbey Wood) said he hoped NOGOE members had "added strength" to scrutiny of the proposals, and said he hoped they would continue as construction got under way.

Denise Hyland (Labour, Shooters Hill) said: "My fears have been completely allayed tonight by what I've heard. Passion for the park isn't just felt by those against the proposal."

Members who voted for the proposal: Ray Walker (vice-chair, Labour, Eltham West), Peter Brooks (Labour, Thamesmead Moorings), Denise Hyland (Labour, Shooters Hill), Sajid Jawaid (Labour, Plumstead), Peter Kotz (Labour, Thamesmead Moorings), Clive Mardner (Labour, Abbey Wood), Steve Offord (Labour, Abbey Wood), John Wakefield (Labour, Glyndon), Peter King (Conservative, Eltham South), Paul Webbewood (Lib Dem, Middle Park & Sutcliffe).

Members who voted against: Geoffrey Brighty (Conservative, Blackheath Westcombe), Dermot Poston (Conservative, Eltham North).


18 Responses to “Greenwich Council approves London 2012 Greenwich park planning application”

  1. Greenwich Park Olympics get green light « 853 on March 24th, 2010 1:09 am

    […] » As you may (or may not) have seen elsewhere, Greenwich Council’s planning committee backed plans to hold the Olympic equestrian events in Greenwich Park by 10 votes to two on Tuesday night, after a meeting which went on for four-and-three-quarter hours. The dissenters […]

  2. Jan Stewer on March 24th, 2010 7:33 am

    A disappointing but unsurprising result. It was obvious that it WAS always a “Done Deal” The opponents of the plan, especially The Woodland Trust & Ancient Tree Forum and the NOGOE team had far superior factual presentations having scrutinised the facts whereas the supporters ( several Councillors and ‘independents’ who were obviously on very familiar terms with the LOCOG team……….) played on emotive values which had absolutely nothing to do with the planning application the Council were being asked to consider. When Fred Brown, Chief Planning Officer was presenting the slides it was apparent from the WHOLE audience that they were shocked by the first pictures of the stadium when viewed from Observatory Hill and blocking the ‘Iconic” view – the very pictures LOCOG should have used in their “Consultations” and not the misleading info they put out to the public.
    Will Connolly of the BEF and Mark Camley of The Royal Parks gave totally different impressions of the proposed construction of the cross-country course which the Chair did not resolve and one of the speakers asked two important questions of LOCOG which the chair did not refer back to LOCOG.
    All very sad that our heritage and community has been put in the hands and minds of some very poor councillors.
    Shame on The “Friends” of Greenwich Park and the local amenity societies who did too little too late when they could have headed off these plans at the beginning and are now obviously smarting from the fact that having elected to work with LOCOG have found themselves cheated and misled.

    Greenwich Council, having now handed over the keys of Greenwich Park will undoubtedly eventually find themselves completely powerless to enforce any conditions on LOCOG and the ODA. They probably won’t even get into the inner sanctum of the VIP suite and there won’t be any glory for Greenwich- especially if we vote them out this spring!

    All very, very sad.

  3. Londonist on March 24th, 2010 9:18 am

    Greenwich Council Gives Nod To Equestrian Events In Park…

    Image by M@ Last night, at what can only be described as a marathon of a public meeting, Greenwich Council’s planning board gave the green light to hosting equestrian events in Greenwich Park. After nearly five hours of deliberation at Woolwich Town H…

  4. Mr. Hill on March 24th, 2010 10:18 am

    Great news, well done.

  5. Indigo on March 24th, 2010 10:27 am

    Council/the Planning Board would have done well to “mug up” on the impact of the temporary arena surfaces which will cover a square-metre area equivalent to that of an all-weather racecourse: there is to be a 4 metre deep cut and fill with the deposit of 100s of tonnes of aggregate and top surface containing sand that is coated with synthetic waxes. This is every bit as traumatic if not more so than the preparation for the x-c surface.

    Last night, Fred Brown’s presentation (of a wildlife-free Park, by the way) on behalf of the Council used a photo of the area south of the Queens House taken during WWII when it was temporarily turned over to allotments, and he added something like, “there’s no trace of them now”. Helloooooooo? Are allotments (double-dug, perhaps, two feet deep?) comparable with 4 metre deep excavation filled with cr*pola brought in from elsewhere, complete with its own chemicals and alien bugs.

    Ignorance is bliss for the ignorant, of course, but makes it easy for powerful vested interests to make “useful idiots” of the ignorant. Councillors are not elected by us to be useful idiots.

    I’d love to know if the Civil Contingencies Act has been invoked from on high to frighten the daylights out of Labour. If it has, pPerhaps someone would like to leak details to me in confidence.

  6. Si on March 24th, 2010 2:03 pm

    I’m glad the NIMBYs lost- the basis of their argument is that they know more than the experts like Royal Parks and English Nature about whether this can be done without long-term damage to the park. Bearing in mind we have the Marathon here evey year, their arguments about congestion and the ‘compaction’ of the grass is shown to be complete bunk. These are just people who fear change and have to rely on conspiracy theories about ‘done deals’ and government conspiracy to explain what happened. Tragic. More over the idea that Nogoe lost had better arguments is incorrect- there are only certain areas of discussion that are pertinent to planning and though Nogoe were more emotive, they weren’t particularly relevant and their objections were all about cynicism and the self-important misconception that they could do a better job. As a local it was an eye-opener. I may attend more planning committees if this is the standard of oppostion.

  7. Indigo on March 24th, 2010 7:27 pm

    Si, it is a great pity that you didn’t read the planning applications or the full responses by such as the Royal Parks but it is too late now.

  8. burneside on March 24th, 2010 8:39 pm

    The decision is a travesty, Greenwich Park is totally unsuitable to hold an event like this, and now us locals will be denied access to the park for extended periods. The ten councillors who voted in favour should hang their heads in shame.

  9. Fat Cat on March 25th, 2010 7:30 am

    I now cant wait. Will locals get priority for tickets? Well actually no you will have to go in a ballot with every other horse fan from the entire EU. I love being a tax payer and funding these minority ‘sports’.

  10. Indigo on March 25th, 2010 7:36 am

    [Sometime in the near future] Here we are at Traitors’ Gate, ladies and gentleman, and if you look up you will see The List of the Dishonoured. In no particular order – cue roll of drums/tumbrils/heads –

    * the Labour councillor who boasted of indulging in the fascist sport of taking down opposition publicity in the ward in which he lives (while leaving untouched all the tatty fliers about pottery sales, guitar lessons, etc): got to make sure that the opposition look like a “minority”, dontcha know.

    * the head of Council legal services – civil servants are meant to be neutral – who e-mailed the Planning Board last weekend to tell them there was no need to bother their pretty little heads about having any responsibility in law to fulfil their over-ridIng statutory duty to the whole community of Greenwich: yea, just take the salaries, chaps, the Government has “got your back”.

    * the Billy-No-Mates at the chamber of commerce who promulgated the falsehood that the equestrian events in Greenwich would create x new jobs, and then when it was pointed out that 80 per cent of those x jobs were UNPAID (ie volunteer roles) blustered indignantly about how valuable volunteers are and how useful it is to have volunteering on your cv: no one is deriding volunteering but volunteering DOES NOT PAY THE RENT, and the Council and LOCOG are pretending that these are real jobs paid with money that you can exchange for food and shelter.

    * the CEO of The Royal Parks (a Government quango, don’t let the “Royal” mislead you into thinking that the Queen has anything to do with the despoilation of Greenwich Park) for perpetrating the myth that LOCOG are only going to scarify the x-country course: scarifying is superficial raking up of surface soil but the man from the British Equestrian Foundation told the truth; they will do the radical preparation that is usually done.

    * Keith Mills, CEO of London 2012, for promising the DCMS in October 2004 in writing that if “extensive surveys” (to be undertaken “immediately”) found that there would be an unacceptable amount of damage done to the Park by the equestrian events London 2012 would renegotiate the venue with the IOC – where is Keith Mills now, and why has he not kept his promise?

    to be continued.

    Well done, the two Conservative councillors who are still attached to their balls. The other two – lighter in weight than their colleagues by at least the avoirdupois of two balls – from faraway Eltham will soon be forgotten.

  11. park keeper on March 25th, 2010 8:14 am

    It wasn’t difficult to see the strings being pulled from above to operate the slack jaws of the 9 spartist puppets.

    The other idiot who “loves the park so much” should be in a home or maybe he is and he’d got out for the night.

    Such a pity that Cllr Poston didn’t pursue snake oil salesman Coe and his ‘sick bag alert’ presentation and tell him to go to hell.

    The roof would have lifted.

  12. lucy thompson on March 25th, 2010 2:35 pm

    I live in Lewisham and use the park all the time. I don’t want to see it abused for the Olympics and so Seb Coe and his business friends can get rich! I am also a horse owner and believe this to be a complete waste of money. It’s a bad venue for a cross country course far too small and to steep in some places. Where is the olympic legacy for horses owners and riders? There are loads of cross country courses and riding schools in Bexley just down the A2 that could be upgraded for the event and would also leave behind something for the horse owners to use. They have done it beacuse it is a beautiful place. Well it won’t be once they have finished raaahhhhhh grrrrrrrrrrrrr. It looks as though there is little chance of Londoners even getting tickets for the Olympic games once Lord Coe (how did he get to become a Lord????), his free loading friends and hangers on have had their share of the tickets.

  13. Jeb on March 26th, 2010 1:56 pm

    Now the equestrian event is a done deal, it would be interesting to have some clarity on the subject of the “Olympic Legacy” money.

    I am not clear whether this is money from the normal Council budget, diverted for the purposes of sport and exercise etc or if it is additional money? If so, where is it coming from? Do all London boroughs get the money or do you have to be an “Olympic” borough to qualify?

    Secondly, who gets to say how the money is spent? Do local organizations running sport/leisure related projects get the opportunity to bid for the cash or does the Council choose?

  14. Reaction to Greenwich Park planning decision | on March 26th, 2010 5:48 pm

    […] Tuesday night, after a marathon session of the Planning Board, consent was given – with conditions attached – for London 2012 to use Greenwich Park as a venue for the […]

  15. steve on March 26th, 2010 6:26 pm

    Did anyone ever really think it was never going to happen??

    This is a great day for Greenwich… we will be on the world’s stage in 2 years time and it will be remembered for many more. The equestrian event will be another amazing piece of history to join the park’s illustrious past!

    We (Greenwich residents) should all be very proud!!

  16. Wolfe on March 26th, 2010 9:23 pm

    Steve, I’m ambivalent about the equestrian events but just wondered how many people really will remember where an elite sport, contested mostly by well-off competitors, took place weeks, let alone years after the games take place.

    I could certainly be wrong – after all we all recall those marvellous horses in Sydney at the…er…at the…um horse ground….oh and those touching moments when the gold was won by…….in China…NO… Shanghai… something like that….er….golf course, that’s it. Looked like new in a matter of days apparently. According to LOCOG. So that’s alright then. Hoorah for the brave British horse riders! There’s….er….and…..oh, you know, him off the telly…no, LOOKS like him off the telly.

    Anyway your probably right – a few shots of the Queen’s House will be an amazing piece of hist….oh no, hang on, there’s going to be a ruddy great stadium in front of that……But I’m sure it will all be fabulous…

  17. Indigo on March 27th, 2010 10:46 am

    Still time to prevent Greenwich Park being turned into an illegal midden.

  18. Greenwich Park Olympics planning saga: The sequel « 853 on June 8th, 2010 1:34 pm

    […] some of the conditions imposed on them by Greenwich Council at March’s planning meeting which gave the green light to equestrian events in Greenwich […]