Lewisham Council has expressed serious concerns about the controversial plan to stage the Olympic equestrian events in Greenwich Park, we can reveal.
In an email obtained by greenwich.co.uk, Stuart Sharp, Lewisham's highways development manager, raises a series of pertinent "areas of concern" about the ability of the local road and rail networks to cope with the spectator and competitor influx for the Games, particularly on the day of the cross-country event.
In the email to Greenwich Council, dated 18 February, Mr Sharp writes: "When does the major cross-country attraction occur - hopefully on a weekend? If it doesn't, then given the predicted 75,000-plus crowd, plus two to three thousand workforce plus competitors all arriving 90 mins or earlier before the events start at 11am means that most will be attempting to travel... during the morning peak. Similarly, the reverse pattern could occur during the evening travel peak."
The day of the cross-country event, 31 July 2012, is a Tuesday.
Mr Sharp says that even the Park's "smaller" events - involving between 22,700 and 55,000 people - will place enormous demands on the local transport network. He protests that the Games organisers have done "no analysis of public transport capacity to absorb the predicted [number of] people requiring to travel to and from the site."
He asks: "Is there sufficient timetable, line and platform capacity to cope with the predicted numbers, particularly on weekdays? How will bus operations be affected if the bus lanes in Romney Road are used for pedestrian movement? I can't find any detail [in the plans] of park-and-ride strategy and direct coach arrival and departure arrangements.
"Where are the drop-off, pick-up and coach queuing points? Where will the 200-250 coaches park after drop-off and before pick-up? The [transport plan] suggests the site off Creek Road hitherto earmarked for the Greenwich Waterfront Transit depot - surely that won't be big enough and will it still be available?"
A failure to set out important plans in sufficient detail is becoming a bit of a theme with the Greenwich Olympics. We still don't know which trees will be affected by the promised "pruning" operations. We don't know the full closure schedule. We don't know where all the temporary buildings will go. We don't even know exactly what the main arena will look like!
But the transport position is serious. Unlike north of the river, Greenwich is to see no transport capacity improvements (apart from a third car on the DLR.) The existing network will, in fact, be reduced in capacity by the likely creation of a competitors-only lane through the Blackwall Tunnel. As well as the visual, amenity and ecological damage to the park, and the damage to the tourist industry of seeing it closed for weeks, there now appears to be a risk of wider economic damage that the area's roads and railways will seize up.
Locog's coyness on transport detail is understandable: their fear must be that Mr Sharp's questions are impossible to answer. But planning applications require detail. It was a lack of detail, as much as anything else, which doomed Greenwich Hospital's application for the market redevelopment - and that application was rather fuller than the Olympic one.
As anyone who has used the area's transport network during the rush hour will know, it is essentially at capacity, sometimes beyond. Although the Games will take place during the summer holiday season - and some of the travel will be against the peak flow - it is a further example of the way in which the Olympic organisers decided this venue on the basis of pretty pictures rather than serious examination.
Lewisham's borough boundary comes within a few hundred yards of the park, and Mr Sharp's email raises the fascinating possibility that the council could formally object to the application.
That possibility still seems remote - but it is a real indictment of Greenwich Council's uncritical cheerleading for the Olympics that important objections are only raised by a neighbouring borough.