Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Annex to Westcombe Society Response to Olympic Planning Application for Greenwich Park

A. Pedestrian and Cycle Routes across the Park

The Westcombe Society are particularly concerned about pedestrian and cycling routes across the park.Greenwich Park is an important route for pedestrians travelling to Greenwich both as commuters to boats, trains, DLR and buses and also by local people visiting facilities in Greenwich itself. There is also a well used cycle route across the park. The only sensible alternative is via Romney Road which is busy at the best of times and has fairly narrow pavements. A revised and detailed plan must be produced showing clearly how pedestrians and cyclists may transit the Park during the Test Event, the construction phase, the Olympic events themselves and the subsequent dismantling and restoration phases, with a view to preserving reasonable transit access for as long as possible, especially during the school holidays. Alternative routes should be provided during the events for pedestrians and pedestrians between theWestcombe Park area and Greenwich that avoid Romney Road.

More details of our reasons and suggestions are given below:


Closure of the east side of the park for 3 weeks in 2011 (Drawing POP-A-O-EQ-XX-GRP-SP-00-112) This will in effect deny access to the park for Westcombe Park residents as a walking/cycling route to Greenwich. It will also deny access for recreation to those with dogs and cycles as the plans seem to show no access to the west side of the park other than through the Flower Garden. The only alternative seems to be the long route round via Charlton Way. The extent of this closure seems excessive for the test event and is in excess of what we had been expecting. We feel that it is of great importance that Great Cross Avenue be open on all but the cross country test day so that a cycle and pedestrian route across the park is kept open.


Closure of the footpath east/west along the herbaceous border from 7 July through to 7 September 2012.(Drawings POP-A-O-EQ-XX-GRP-SP-00-110 Construction Phasing Diagrams 1, POP-A-O-EQ-XX-GRP-SP-00-111 Construction Phasing Diagrams 2 and POP-A-O-EQ-XX-GRP-SP-00-112 Construction Phasing Diagrams 3) We had understood that this path would be kept open except for days when there is complete closure of the park. This period of 2 months covers the whole of the school summer holidays and means that the only practical pedestrian route from West Greenwich to the children’s playground is along Romney Road which has fairly narrow pavements and heavy traffic, which will may be increased during the Olympic period. This route is also the only route that can be used by the many people who walk from the Westcombe Parkarea to Greenwich every day of the year (see previous paragraph). The planning application shows bridges over the wall and haha, perhaps it would be possible to bridge the footpath so that it can be kept open for the majority, if not all of the summer. Alternatively is it possible to provide a route parallel to Romney Roadinside the Museum grounds?

Closure of ‘The Avenue’ from 7th July to 7th September 2012 will mean closure of the cycle route throughGreenwich Park for 2 months. The alternative route for cycles is either along the A2 or along Romney Roadneither of which are ideal especially with the additional traffic expected in 2012 and use of the bus lane inRomney Road for Olympic buses. The Westcombe Society would like consideration to be given to the creation of a temporary cycle route from 4th August to 8th September from Great Cross Avenue to Crooms Hill Gate to provide a safer alternative once the upper part of the park reopens. This would be along the boundary of the Olympic closure area so could be cordoned off to separate cyclists and pedestrians.

B. The Arena

The Westcombe Society are disappointed that the design of the arena has changed from two stands (East and West) as shown in plans in the October 2008 and Summer 2009 Greenwich Park Venue updates and in the Artist’s impression which appeared in Summer 2009 venue update. We are also concerned that no detail is given of the cladding for the stands and that it is still unclear what is proposed for the base of the arena itself. Detailed plans for the Arena, both stands and arena itself, should be re-submitted with more detail for public consultation and reconsideration by the Planning Board at a later date.

A revised design for the Arena should be produced which:

  • improves the sight lines from the Queen's House so that the Wolfe Statue and Old Royal Observatory are more clearly visible ;
  • shows clearly how the Arena will impact on the view from the Wolfe Statue;
  • demonstrates how the visual impact will be minimized during the construction and dismantling phases;
  • sets out a firm proposal for the performance area surface of the Arena and demonstrates what impact that surface is likely to have on the ecology and use and enjoyment of the grassland from the run-up to the Test Event to the dismantling of the Area after the events are over and the restoration period beyond.

The final decision should not be left in the hands of officers.

Consideration should be given to lowering the south stand or dividing it, as with the Artist’s impression given below. Our reasons are as follows:

When the October 2009 Greenwich Park update was published the plan for the arena had changed to three stands (East, West and South) although the Artist’s impression continued to show two stands. Many of us had heaved a sigh of relief on first seeing the artists impression of two stands as we felt that this was sympathetic to the Grand Axis and the view from the General Wolfe statue. We find it regrettable that no drawings of this view are included in the Planning Application and have therefore produced our own impressions

(these impressions are not available on the blog. They show the view from the General Wolfe statue with the ground floor of the Queen's House and collonade blocked out as if obscured by the South stand, a second impression shows the height of the arena below the Queen's house. Copies available from westpes@googlemail.com)

We are particularly concerned that the proposed South stand is so high and blocks out the ground floor of the Queen’s House when viewed from General Wolfe. We feel that ideally there should be a gap between the stands as shown in the Artist’s impression. If there is to be a South stand spanning the full width of the stadium then it is important that it is low enough to allow a full height view of the Queen’s house from General Wolfe.

It should be noted that although the Design and Access statement section 4.4 only talks about the view being key during the games;

‘The view from the General Wolfe Statue down the hill to the Queen’s House is a key view …………….. the statue will be visible from the Queen’s House balcony. Whilst neither of these positions will be major public viewing areas during the period of the Games they are likely to be views which are recorded by television cameras and hence are significant.’

‘The sides and rear of the stands will be visible and their appearance requires careful consideration.’

no mention is made of the view being key at all times. Although television images will be transmitted during the games it should not be forgotten that hundreds of photographic images of this view are taken every day of the year by visitors from all over the world. This probably makes this view one of the best known in the world. During 2012 most of the photographs taken will be during the construction and dismantling periods when the rest of the park is open. Currently the plans show the South stand is to be constructed first and therefore it will have a significant impact on this view from April through to September 2012, the whole summer season. If there is to be a South stand, consideration should be given to erecting it last and dismantling it first so as to minimise disruption to the view.

Our concerns seem to be in line with the letters in Appendices 10 and 11 of the Final Planning Statement.Dr Jane Sidell, Inspector of Ancient Monuments, English Heritage says

‘…the design of the stadium – which will be a major structure within the World Heritage Site. This is particularly relevant for the southern elevation which will be prominent in views from the Royal Observatory and General Wolfe statue viewing point…’ 5 October 2009

and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment says

We think the design team should consider whether creating gaps between the three stands is the best approach, or whether continuing the seating around the corners would be more successful.

A lower section in the middle stand might complement the gaps between the three stands, if they continue to be proposed, marking he continuing axis through the site, and improving sight lines from the Wolfe monument.’ 15 October 2009

We note also that section 4.4 of the Design and Access statement also mentions appearance of the facades, this is particularly important at all times for a South stand not just for the actual Olympic period.

The view of the Queen’s House from Romney Road and the river should also not be forgotten, not only is this the view seen by many visitors passing by, it also the first view that many spectators will get when visiting the arena. Drawing POP-A-O-EQ-XX GRP-EL-00-525 Queen’s House Long Elevations has a north Elevation of the Queen’s House showing the South stand towering above the Queen’s House.

There also needs to be careful consideration of the impact on the park of the different proposals being considered for the base of the arena itself. It would seem that there are three options at present which will have very different implications for the park. We would like to propose that that the option chosen be that which minimises disruption to the fabric of the park. It is important that no scar is left on the landscape between the test event in 2011 and the final setup in 2012. It is also important that the park is returned to it’s normal state as soon as possible.

C. Other issues of concern within the park.

Additional conditions should also be imposed requiring satisfactory explanations and assurances about other points of concern to the Society regarding the Park where the assessment is either inadequate or unclear.

The following are causing us particular concern at present:

· Exactly when and where will fences be constructed?

· Which gates will be closed and when?

· Will parking within the park and on Charlton Way (at weekends) be available whenever the park is open.

· Will any areas of the park be fenced off after November 2012? If so which areas?

· The designs of all temporary structures, especially the Arena, must be available for consultation and be decided on by the Planning Board.

· Noise from the stables, other temporary structures and generators must be sufficiently low or far from residential areas as to not disturb residents.

Westcombe Society

13 January 2010

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