LONDON 2012's Equestrian events have concluded, with Team GB scoring a brace of medals in Greenwich Park. Although the Modern Pentathlon events are still to take place this weekend, parts of the park have begun to open up again and work is now under way to restore it.
Locog had previously published plans for the phased re-opening of the park that indicated large swathes would be accessible from August 4th.
But when the day came, despite London 2012 posters on gates saying the park was re-opening "as planned", many gates were still locked, the opening of the Observatory had been delayed by ten days and the expected crossing points between the East and West sides of the park weren't present.
One local councillor, Matthew Pennycook, took to his blog to express his disappointment, adding that "the incremental opening of the park and the revisions being made ... lie outside the spirit of the original planning permission."
By Wednesday of this week, about 30% of the park had been reopened and Royal Parks invited the local media to learn more about the reinstatement ahead.
Royal Parks are already working on reinstating areas of the park on the cross country route. The final part of the park to be handed back to them will be in the stadium area which isn't expected to be completely taken down until November.
These are a selection of images from the re-opened parts of the park followed by comments from Park Manager, Graham Dear, and Royal Parks' London 2012 Project Manager, Derrick Spurr.
The cross country course went past the Henry Moore statue. The photo shows where the course went through the now famous Acid Grass. Park bosses have previously described how they plan to use chemical solution Rescue on affected acid grasslands.
What work will be carried out on damaged grass in the park?
GD: All around the cross country route we are going around with a machine that we call Vertidrain. It's a spiker that we use where the ground may be compacted. That gets air in to the soil to allow it to drain. It's only a precautionary thing really.
Where the grass has gone yellow, if it's going to recover we'll just scarify it, mow it over, rake out any of the thatch, maybe put a bit of quick release fertiliser on to give it a boost and it will be fine. That is a lot of the reinstatement.
In other areas where you've had overlay, for instance underneath heavy concrete blocks, the grass will be dead so we'll have to scarify it, fork it over, put a bit of top soil and seed it. If there are very large areas, we may decide to turf it.
DS: Within one growing season, it will be very difficult to see where the events have taken place and I'm absolutely confident of that.
Will any special work be required at the "take off" areas before each jump on the cross country course?
GD: We will fork it, lift it, put a bit of top soil down and seed it, but on the course, it's actually not that bad.
Why has the schedule for re-opening parts of the park slipped?
GD: We'll open it as soon as possible in consultation with Locog but only when it's safe to do so.
DS: We've opened up about a third of the park. We said we'd start to open up on the 4th and now it's the 8th. We're hopefully going to be opening up more later this week, I don't feel like we're too far behind. In that promise that was made, there was a caveat. Lots of big things moving around don't mix too well with the public so we're very anxious about health and safety and so is Locog.
The biggest issue is that there's no East West connection which we're pushing Locog hard to get because we've opened both sides but people want to come in one side and go out the other. They've not given us a clear date but we're pushing hard.
When will the new Blackheath Gate be finished?
DS: The first phase has been done. The new gate and the central pillar will go in with work starting in November. Brick work can be quite weather sensitive but the plan is to start in November and carry on until January or February.
I was Park Manager here for 14 years and it was always one of my ambitions to get those gates done so it will be nice to see it whilst I'm still here!
With the perceived success of the equestrian events in Greenwich Park, will it be a once-in-a-lifetime experience or might other such competitions be staged there in the future?
DS: There's no plans to have events of this type in the foreseeable future. You never know what will come our way as the Royal Parks and we consider events if it's practical to put them on, but at the moment in time, the answer is there's none planned.
Royal Parks have promised another briefing in September.