Greenwich Park Olympics: Now the work begins

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.”

Essential information: The London Prepares brochure about the test events, a detailed map of this summer’s park closures, and a full timetable of what’s happening.

Free tickets to the events are available to Greenwich borough residents via Greenwich Council.


  1. Indigo

    The acid grassland is not “bouncing back”.

    Hadaway: “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 reinstatement was planning condition 1. LOCOG had plenty of time to make that argument a year ago and did not.

  2. Indigo

    “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.”

    You haven’t read the Method Statement, I take it?

  3. Indigo

    Happily, a NOGOE representative was also present to provide some balance to what Hadaway was claiming and to explain to BBC London News tv (broadcast at 6.30pm) that the Test Events are very much scaled down and will not simulate the impacts of the main event on the Park. For example LOCOG still don’t have a waste management plan, other than to say they will not discharge into the mains system nor draw water from the mains. But they don’t tell us about the health and safety issues nor mention the number of extra lorry movements involved. This is the worry: that they are making plans as they go along with no public scrutiny.

  4. scared of chives

    From the LOCOG website:

    ‘Over the next two years, small sections of the Park will be cordoned off to allow ground improvement works to take place….it will have little impact on visitors to the Park who will still be able to access all areas freely, except for a narrow strip of ground in certain places.’

    That red area on map – and ‘most of the east side of the park’ – doesn’t seem to me to be ‘a narrow strip’.

  5. Steve

    SOC – surely the two year period you are referring to was excluding the test event. Did you think that the test event would be taking place in narrow strips of ground?

    I went to the information tent today and spoke to the LOGOC people and don’t find what they are planning for this year to be at all unreasonable.

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