November 2009 has, for a long time, been a date etched in my mind as this is the month the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games makes its planning application submission. So it’s a good moment to reflect on the enormous amount of detailed work that’s been done on the use of the Park as a venue for Olympic Equestrian and Modern Pentathlon and the Paralympic Dressage competitions in 2012.
For more than a year now we’ve talked to local residents and consulted with Greenwich Council, The Royal Parks, English Heritage, Natural England and other key organisations. We’ve listened to the many things residents have said and points raised and, where possible, adapted our plans accordingly.
We know, for example, many residents expressed their concern about how The Flower Garden and The Children’s Playground would be affected by events in 2012 and about Park closures.
Having considered these issues we’ve altered the Cross Country course so it now only runs through the northern part of The Flower Garden avoiding any flower beds and the pond. The remainder of The Flower Garden will remain open to the public except for the day of the Cross Country competition which is, provisionally, 31 July 2012.
Similarly, following feedback from residents, The Children’s Playground will now be placed outside the secure perimeter of the Games which means it too will remain open apart from the day of the Cross Country event. We’re also in discussions about upgrading the Playground after the Games.
On the issue of Park closure we’ve reduced this to around four weeks. We cannot give absolute guarantees at this stage because of security assessments and other considerations, but this is our aim.
We’ve also heard the concerns raised over traffic congestion and the question of resident and business access. As a result plans for the Olympic Route Network (ORN) have been adapted to minimise the impact. Even if a road is ‘designated’ as part of the ORN it does not mean it will automatically be closed. Residents and business owners will have access to their homes and properties and there are no planned residential road closures.
In addition we have moved the venue entrance to the National Maritime Museum side of Romney Road instead of the Old Royal Naval College so ensuring Romney Road is no longer within the venue perimeter. This means the Old Royal Naval College will remain accessible to the public during the Games. Circus Field in Blackheath will be used as an operational compound to avoid the need for large vehicle access to the Park. This will cause less disruption and impact to the Park itself.
We know Greenwich Park is a site of unique historical, environmental and archaeological significance and important to local residents and users. And we are committed to ensuring the Park is returned in the condition we receive it. We will not be cutting down any trees in the Park. There may be some minor pruning but this will be carried out in full consultation with The Royal Parks.
We are also working on our legacy plans with the British Equestrian Federation and Greenwich Council which includes the development of an equestrian centre in the Borough.
We hope the changes we have made so far show how important residents’ views are to us and how we will continue to listen. On our dedicated website, www.london2012.com/greenwichparkconsultation we’ve answered some key questions and cleared up some of the misinformation around the proposed use of the Park. There’s also an opportunity for you to tell us what you think through our online ‘Feedback’ forms. Please do fill this form in because your views are important to us.
Or you could come and visit us at 8 College Approach from Wednesday 28th October until Saturday 31st October 2009 where you can see our plans in detail and give us feedback in person.
We look forward to seeing you there.
Tim Hadaway is the London 2012 Organising Committee's Sport Competition Manager for equestrian events at the London 2012 Olympic Games.