It’s finally about to happen – the heavy work will start on Monday preparing Greenwich Park for this summer’s test events in advance of next year’s Olympics.
A chunk of the park in front of the National Maritime Museum (marked in red on the map above) will be closed from 16 May to 10 August as work begins on a temporary arena for the Greenwich Park Eventing International, to be held from 4-6 July, and the modern pentathlon World Cup Final on 9 and 10 July.
Most of the east side of the park closes from 21 June-10 July, although the bigger pathways will remain open for most of that time, and there will be various traffic and parking restrictions. Full details are available from the London 2012 website, while a drop-in centre in the tea rooms will remain open on Saturday.
LOCOG’s equestrian manager Tim Hadaway took the press (and, if you look closely on BBC London News, one strange chap with a bike) around the park this morning to show off what they’re up to – a completed jump here, treated grass there. With the current dry weather, it’s actually easy to tell the cross country route – it’s the lush green bit surrounded by lots of parched grass.
So far, it’s looking good – with the jumps created by planting on top of what already exists, rather than digging great holes in the ground. So in the example below, you can see where part of the dip has been filled in with new soil and turf – the wooden fencing will be removed when the test events take place.
There’s some movement on improving information for park users, with noticeboards planned that can be regularly updated. (The “battleship”-like hoardings on Woolwich Common, where the 2012 shooting venue is being built, will also be decorated, LOCOG say.)
The arena will sit on an artificial platform, to ensure a level surface, with an 80m x 70m deck placed on it, with an equestrian surface – sand, basically – placed on top. There will be seating for 2,000 people on the south side of the arena.
Tim Hadaway told 853 he hoped people would see how the park returned to normal after the test events, and feel able to trust organisers with the park in 2012.
Asked about criticisms of LOCOG’s plans for getting the park back in action after the Olympics, he said: “Part of reason for the perceived vagueness is you don’t know exactly what you need to reinstate – and the most appropriate way of reinstating it – until you have to reinstate it.
“The will be some areas where a Portakabin may have been there for a short period of time and yes, the grass is browned off, but look at this place most of the time – it bounces back.
“And there will be some places where it’s appropriate to put turf down. That’s why it’s coming across as being vague.
“But the commitment is there, to work with the experts – Royal Parks. People will see what we do after this, and hopefully that will build confidence.”
Free tickets to the events are available to Greenwich borough residents via Greenwich Council.